Tag: car safety

Fixing Distracted Driving with System Safety Designs

In 1983 only 13 percent of the public regularly used seat belts. Advertising and education campaigns were undertaken and 26 years later, that number increased to approximately 85 percent. That’s more than 25 years to make a usage change of 72 percent. In the meantime, people were injured and died.

If we continue the same path and rely upon changing human behavior through campaigns for distracted driving, we can expect the same results, a long wait for a significant change. In the meantime, more than nine people a day will continue to die due to distracted driving, a number that increased from eight just two years ago. Or, society can demand, politicians can legislate, and automakers can undertake using system safety design.

Technology has existed since the early 2000s that will block cell phone signals from the driver’s seat area of vehicles. If installed in vehicles, it could greatly reduce the risks from distracted technology usage in vehicles.

Some might argue that hands free technology is enough if drivers utilize it, but it’s not. It still leads to inattention blindness, drivers missing important items such as stop signs and pedestrians. The human brain cannot process all the information coming into it when attempting to multitask. It has four attention capabilities:

  1. Sustained attention: ability to concentrate on an activity for a prolonged period without being distracted (e.g., reading a book)
  2. Selective attention: ability to select from various factors or stimuli and focus on only one (e.g., talking to one person at a noisy party)
  3. Alternating attention: ability to shift between tasks and cognitive areas of the brain (e.g., reading a recipe and then following the instructions)
  4. Divided attention: attempting to process two or more demands at the same time require the use of the same cognitive areas of the brain (e.g., on the phone and driving)

Divided attention is what happens when humans attempt to multi task. It creates inattention blindness leading to injury and death for many. Yet, according to AAA:

  • 2 in 3 drivers talk on their cell phones while driving
  • 1 in 3 drivers admit to typing and sending a text while driving
  • 2 in 5 drivers admit to reading a text or email while driving

Sixty-seven percent of those surveyed by the National Safety Council felt at risk because of other drivers’ distractions due to technology. But, back to human behavior, only 25 percent of those same people said their own technology use put others at risk.

Just because we’ve done something one way before doesn’t mean we always have to do it that way. This time it’s time to change our reliance on changing human behavior. Instead, let’s rely on system safety design.

Listen in as Kevin King talks more about distracted driving and system safety design.

Want to hear more talks from Peter and Kevin King? Tune into WCIS 1010 AM Columbus, IN the first and third Friday of every month for People’s Law Talk.

Learn more about distracted technology from us and other great sources.

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Distracted Driving by the Numbers

Distracted driving due to technology is a real threat. As drivers we recognize the hazards yet we continue to ignore what we know.

This is distracted driving by the numbers:

  • 3,000 people die each year as a result of distractive technology.
  • 2 in 3 drivers reported talking on their cell phone while driving in the past month.
  • 1 in 3 (31.5 percent) drivers admit to typing or sending a text message or email while driving.
  • 2 in 5 (42.3 percent) drivers report reading a text message or email while driving.
  • People are more accepting of hands-free cell phone use than hand-held (63.1 percent vs. 30.8 percent).
  • Research indicates drivers using handheld and hands-free phones only see about 50 percent of all the information in their driving environment.
  • Less than half (42.4 percent) of drivers support an outright ban on using any type of cell phone (including hands-free) while driving.
  • 58 percent of drivers believe it is acceptable to use cellphones while driving
  • 60 percent of college students admit they maybe addicted to their cellphones.

The numbers clearly show distractive technology is a hazard. As drivers we know it but we don’t change our behavior. Why? As human beings we are so closely connected to cellphones that it becomes very difficult, if not impossible, not to “sneak a peek” at while driving. That is why distractions from technology while driving a vehicle must be achieved through design.  It is possible. The following are some interesting ideas for consideration:

In 2005, Patent Application US 2005/0119002 A1 discussed a system for controlling wireless communication from a moving vehicle. The patent claimed an innovation regarding a system for preventing mobile phone conversations in vehicles traveling above a pre-defined speed without cutting off communication. The patent addresses previous art recognizing patent applications from the year 2001. In 2007, the above patent application was granted, US Patent No. 7,187, 953 B2.

In 2012, US Patent No. 8,131,205 B2 (filed April 30, 2009) discussed a mobile phone detection and interruption system method for vehicles. The patent discussed a system capable of being mounted in a vehicle and blocking communications between a mobile phone and cellular network responsive to the velocity of the vehicle and/or detection of a mobile phone communication in the vehicle.

In 2013, US Patent No. 8,384,555 B2 (filed January 11, 2010) discussed method and system for automated detection of mobile phone usage. In the patent, it discusses previous art related to the system.

In 2012, an article in a technical journal discussed a system to detect and block only driver’s usage of cellphone signals, but allowing passengers in a vehicle to continue to use their cellphones. The system involved a noninvasive, small size, mobile detection system with a jammer to detect the driver’s use of mobile phone and not the phone used by fellow passengers. The blocking of the mobile communication only occurred in the driver seating area.

The above systems do not rely upon our decisions as drives on whether or not to use a cellphone app to block a signal while driving. The design eliminates the hazard without our behavior becoming a factor. These designs are one piece of the puzzle in achieving Vision Zero.

James A. Roberts, Luc Honore Petnji Yaya and Chris Manolis, (2104). The Invisible Addiction: Cell-Phone Activities and Addiction Among Male and Female College Students. Journal of Behavioral Addictions, 3(4), p. 254-265. 
For further in-depth reading on the complexities required for everyday driving, see John Groeger, 2000, Understanding Driving, Applying Cognitive Psychology to a Complex Everyday Task. Psychology Press.
H. Abdul Shabeer, R.S.D. Wahida Banu, H. Abdul Zubar, (2012). Technology to prevent mobile phone accidents. Int. J. Enterprise Network Management, Vol. 5, No. 23, 2012.

Eliminating US Traffic Fatalities: It Is Possible

Car Technology 2What would you say if someone told you there could be zero traffic deaths each year? It might sound like a pipe dream, but it’s not. Many safety advocates are saying it is possible to eliminate most of the 30,000 plus annual highway fatalities in the US.

How is it possible? Speeding up the adoption on new safety technology. Automakers are notoriously known for taking decades to fully integrate existing safety technology into cars on a standard basis. But, if automakers were to safely speed along their adoption process for things that have been around since 2000 like forward-collision warning, rear cameras, lane-departure warning, traffic-jam assist, adaptive cruise control, and more, the aim for Vision Zero could be within reach.

Vision Zero was written into Swedish law in 1997, stating no level of traffic fatalities would be acceptable. They are demanding 100 percent safety on the road. New technology advancements like vehicle-to-vehicle communications and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications are a part of making Vision Zero a reality.

But even without those technologies that are in the works, and just with what is possible as of 2015, US traffic deaths could be cut by almost 10,000 a year, that is, if these technologies were implemented in all cars on the roadway. That’s where it gets harder. The US has nearly 260 million light vehicles on the road with an average age of 11.5 years. That’s a lot of older cars without new technology and with no financial incentives many consumers won’t or can’t invest in newer, safer technology.

It’s time for consumers, automakers, and lawmakers to step up. It’s time to stop accepting traffic fatalities as a normal. It’s time to demand the safety technology available is implemented in new vehicles. It’s time to demand affordable, safer options for America’s roadways.

Want to read more about the aim for zero roadway fatalities? Read Aiming For Zero, Automotive News for more details on this goal that could become a reality.

Vehicle Crash Tests Ratings: What You Need to Know

CrashTestingReady to buy a new car? You’re probably considering three big factors when making your purchasing decision: cost, style, and safety. Though sometimes looked at last by consumers, safety should be at the forefront of your mind as you make your purchase.

A new vehicle is something you’re going to spend time in on a daily basis. You need to trust your car to get you from point A to point B without worrying about what will happen to you should there be a crash. One way to know the safety of a vehicle is to look into crash test ratings. Where do you find this crash test data and how do you know what each crash test is studying? Listen in as Kevin King explains the safety behind vehicle crash tests.

Want to hear more talks from Peter and Kevin King? Tune into WCIS 1010 AM Columbus, IN the first and third Friday of every month for People’s Law Talk.

A Daily Struggle: Tethering Child Safety Seats

Daily, moms and dads across the country place their most precious cargo into a child safety seat and hit the road, all of them believing their children are safe and secure. With mandatory laws requiring that children be placed in car seats, two systems (seat and car) come into play and interact with one another. This interaction of a child safety seat with a vehicle is another example of how system safety can be used to recognize hazards and eliminate said hazards through design.

Over the years, there has been literature regarding parents’ alleged misuse of car seats relative to installation anchoring. Misuse is the incorrect term though. Parents use their best efforts to anchor car seats given the two systems they are utilizing. Designers of the systems (both car seat designers and car designers) should undertake studies well in advance of marketing to understand how parents will use both systems in conjunction.

In 2015 the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety published a study regarding LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children). The study found that latch hardware could be better designed for correct installation. The study recognized that parents often struggled to locate the anchors in vehicles or find it difficult to attach the car seat to the vehicle.

Lower anchors should be no more than ¾ inch deep in the seat bight (area where the seat back and base come together). 

Seat Bight Measurements

The left picture shows a depth of less than ¾ inch. The right picture shows a depth of greater than ¾ inch.

Upper anchor points should also be easy to find, clearly labeled, and not confused with such things as cargo hooks that could be mistaken for anchor points.

Seat anchor examples

The two left images show vehicles with easy to find anchors without other hardware nearby that could be confused as anchors. The right image shows tethering anchors that are hard to find. They are hidden among other hardware that could easily be confused as anchors.

Securely anchoring child seats should not be a struggle for parents. Coordinating designs of child seats relative to vehicles is an example of how design induced error can occur when system safety is not used.

Where is My Self-Driving Car?

Self Driving CarBack to the Future day has come and gone but we’re still waiting on some of the technologies we were supposed to see by now, at least according to Doc Brown. Where are our hover boards? How about those self-sizing jackets?

While neither of those are on our radars, one futuristic technology we’re seeing more of in the news lately is the autonomous, or self-driving, car. Sounds like a great idea, right? We can be like George Jetson and finally have someone do our driving for us. Less accidents and less traffic both sound like positive outcomes we might see from self-driving cars. So why aren’t they here yet?

Listen in as Kevin King, counselor from Cline, King & King, discusses just what we need to see before we see self-driving cars on a broad basis and what the timeline looks like. Talking with John Foster on WCIS 1010 AM in Columbus, IN, King reviews some subsystems we’ll see standard in today’s cars leading up to the self-driving cars including: Automatic Emergency Braking, Lane Departure Warnings, Pedestrian Detection Systems, and Vehicle-to-Vehicle Communication. He also discusses the need for Human Factor Analysis and requirements that we’ll see from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on these futuristic cars.

Listen to the full audio and get all of the details of King’s discussion:

What do you think? What do we need to see in self-driving cars to keep ourselves safe?

Want to hear more talks from Peter and Kevin king? Tune into WCIS 1010 AM Columbus, IN the first and third Friday of every month for People’s Law Talk.