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Why AP matters: Distracted driving


Active Member
Oct 27, 2014
Westlake, TX
Data from NHTSA from 2011 and 2012 tells us that at any given daylight moment--ie instanteneously that 660,000 people in US are using their cell phone or other electronic device while driving...

Do fellow TMC'ers think this number has increased or decreased since 2012? Do we think that the use of AP will help with safety or accelerate distracted driving?

NHTSA Survey Finds 660,000 Drivers Using Cell Phones or Manipulating Electronic Devices While Driving At Any Given Daylight Moment | National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
While driving with AP yesterday I noticed the temptation to just look at the phone. The car was very reliable in slow stop and go traffic. At the same time it was very reliably failing in some situations. Hard to say how people will change their behavior. Some might be too scared of AP failing in some situations, some might use the extra safety and become cocky.
I completely agree. My big fear is that we Americans will throw all of our trust in this tech and simply ignore what is going on around us. It is our culture, after all. I am now in the habit of looking right at the driver's faces around me to see if they are engaged and actually paying attention. So many are not and I get as far away as I can. AP, while amazing and a great tool, will most likely be misused for some time before we get our arms around it and make it a true safety and convenience tool.
I think that in general AP will increase safety. Even if you don't text while driving, using the radio can be distracting. So can confirming a voice activated call. If I call someone, I have to look at my Android watch to make certain it is calling the correct person. If I use Tesla voice dailing, I have to read the name and number on the Tesla screen, then touch the correct one with my finger. Sometimes I am able to do this and stay centered in the lane, but other times I find that I've drifted to the white line in those few seconds my eyes weren't on the road. With AP, when I'm going straight in a lane with good markings, I can work some of the features in the car and know that I will stay centered and not cause an accident. I also know the car will start to slow down and get my attention if the person in front of me hits the brakes at the very moment that my attention was diverted to something other than driving, which if we are being honest, happens more often in today's world than we like to admit, even if we aren't breaking any laws.
It will increase distracted driving, but it will also significantly decrease collisions.

Kind of like condoms increase risky sexual activity, but still decrease disease.
Good analogy.
It seems like many drivers are already distracted; by a phone call, text, eating, makeup, talking to a passenger, etc. Even when I am driving solo with the radio off and no cell phone activity going on, I sometimes find myself distracted by my own thoughts. It's hard to maintain focus on the road and other cars for an extended period.
AP and active safety features seem like they will help prevent accidents more than they will cause even greater driver distraction than we have already.

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