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Thursday, September 28, 2006

The mixing of technology and cars

I found this great article at Autoweb.com. The discussion in the article is about the growing use of technology commonl;y used while driving the car. It kind of makes you wish we were in the good old days when all we had to worry about was people using their cell phones while driving their cars (still a problem, though). Now we have to contend with people text messaging while driving their cars. Going online while driving is just plain stupid. Hands and eyes are taken off the road.
People should just use their brains when they drive. It only takes a second or less of taking their eyes off the road to cause a very serious collision. Anyway here follows the article.
5 Tips for Keeping Your Mind off of Gadgets – and on the Road
A new generation of technology gadgets – from Blackberries and iPods, to hundred-channel satellite radio receivers – are making the distractions associated with cell phone conversations seem almost quaint. If driving while talking, even hands-free, is dangerous – and a new study finds that it can be more dangerous than drunk driving – then just imagine how dangerous it is to type a text message with one hand on the wheel, or to find that one song among hundreds on an iPod. If you’re thinking that nobody does crazy stuff like that, you’re dead wrong. In fact, nearly 40% of the drivers polled by Autobytel say they’ve typed a text message while driving, 30% say they’ve driven while using their iPods with headphones … and an alarming 58% admit that they’ve taken BOTH hands off the wheel because they were fiddling with high-tech gadgets. It should come as no surprise, then, that when asked to describe their experience with in-vehicle gadgets and driver safety, 88% described it as either a moderate or serious safety threat, with 40% characterizing today’s tech-distracted drivers as “out of control.”
With that in mind, Autobytel's safety campaign, “Take the Pledge to Slow Down,” offers 5 basic tips for keeping in-vehicle technology distractions to a minimum, and keeping your eyes and mind focused where they belong: On the road.
1. It's the yackin’ that’s distractin’: Although hands-free cell phones keep your hands on the wheel, they don’t necessarily keep your attention on the road – and there’s evidence that they don’t greatly reduce the risk of accident. In fact, NHTSA finds that speech-based interaction, hands-free or not, is associated with a 30% increase in reaction time. So, the safest strategy is to always wait until you get to your destination, or pull over to a safe location, before making your calls. If you have to make an emergency call – to report an accident, drunk driver, etc. – pull over to a safe location.
2. Don’t be a “tech rubberneck”: Never put yourself in a position where you’d have to bend over to reach for a call or device while driving. If you’re considering a new vehicle, look for one that offers steering wheel controls for the CD player, radio, etc. If you’re an incorrigible communications junkie – and there are a lot of us out there – you might consider keeping temptation out of site (and out of mind). Put your cell phone, Treo, iPod, et. al. in your trunk, and use them to do what you have to do during stops.

3. Online and on-road don’t mix: It seems fairly obvious, but we’ll say it anyway: Don’t ever check or send email or surf the Internet while driving – period. Palm Pilots, laptops and navigation systems have all added a dangerous new hand-oriented multi-tasking to the driving experience, which completely takes eyes and attention off the road.
4. Don’t fiddle on the fly: If you have satellite radio (which often feature 100+ channels), set your favorite channels ahead of time. Many navigation systems will only allow you to program destinations before you drive, but if not, make sure that you follow that policy anyway. Choose a navigation system with a user-friendly design: large, simple and easily accessible controls, voice recognition, and clearly visible displays.

If you use an iPod (some of which now support 10,000 songs and intricate playlists) be sure to program what you want to hear before you start driving, and only make changes when you stop or pull over. No matter how difficult it is to install your iPod in your vehicle, never, ever use headphones while driving – It’s illegal, for a very good reason. If you’re having trouble finding or installing an effective iPod adaptor in your vehicle, visit the iPod center at Autobytel.com for instructions and advice.
5. Take the Pledge at Autobytel.com – Authorities are just beginning to study the effect of cutting-edge in-vehicle technology on driver distraction, accidents and fatalities – and legislation is likely years in the future. But just because something isn’t illegal yet doesn’t mean it’s not dangerous. Don’t become a statistic that’s later used to justify outlawing using in-vehicle technology while driving. Make a personal, predetermined decision to do the right thing NOW. If you want to put your commitment to drive safely and responsibly in writing, we encourage you to “Take the Pledge” today!
Let's just face it,being a tech junkie and being a driver just do not mix, and are just a dangerous combination. When you are behinf the wheel of a car, you really should check your ego at the door. If you don't you can really hurt someone. Or worse.


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