Could Cell Phones Soon Be a Key Tool in Preventing Car Accidents?


March 03, 2014

Cell phones are generally regarded as one of the most common causes of serious motor vehicle accidents, because many drivers engage in distracted driving practices like talking or texting. However, there is a possibility that cell phones may soon make drivers safer. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx recently announced plans to compel automakers to equip new vehicles with crash avoidance technology that is designed to monitor other vehicles and automatically engage in evasive action to avoid car crashes. Some traffic safety experts suggest that cell phones may be the most efficient way to achieve the necessary level of market penetration for this technology to improve roadway safety.

Officials for the Department of Transportation (DOT) indicate that as many as eight in ten collisions could be prevented by this safety technology based on recent research by the agency. The DOT is expected to release a proposed rule requiring new vehicles to be equipped with this equipment before the end of the Obama administration. Once automakers begin equipping vehicles with the safety technology, it is estimated that it would take approximately fifteen years for half the cars on the road to be equipped with this autonomous crash avoidance technology.

The technology includes a transponder that continually transmits the motor vehicle's speed, heading, speed, position and other information at a rate of ten times per second in all directions using radio signals. Vehicles equipped with the technology would receive the same information back from other vehicles with these safety devices so that the computer of a vehicle could alert the driver of a potential crash. In some cases, the system would automatically apply the brakes to avoid a collision.

Federal safety experts indicate that the majority of motor vehicle accidents could be eliminated once the technology is fully implemented, but it will take a period of time for the number of vehicles equipped with the systems to reach enough of a critical mass that noticeable safety benefits are achieved. Although it is unclear how much market penetration must be accomplished to show significant reductions in crash rates, some research indicates that as few as seven to ten percent of vehicles on the road might yield some benefits.

This delay in market penetration might be assisted by use of cell phones according to a Fox News report. The average cell phone user replaces their cell phone every two years. Almost half of the U.S. population uses cell phones so radio chips could be installed in cell phones to retrofit motor vehicles already on the roadway. Qualcomm estimates this would allow fifty percent market penetration of this technology within a five year period.

Although the notion that cell phones could soon prevent car accidents instead of causing them is indeed a welcome announcement. Drivers who are intoxicated, distracted or otherwise driving in an unsafe manner will continue to cause serious injury and wrongful death to other vehicle occupants. If you or someone you love was injured in a motor vehicle accident caused by a careless or inattentive driver, the responsible driver might be liable for the resulting injuries and loss.

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Category: Auto Accidents

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