Written by Peter Castro
Attending San Jose State University in the fall of 2016.
It is no mystery that, with the electronic movement, people are becoming addicted and driven by their new gadgets now more than ever. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 660,000 drivers are using an electronic device at any given moment. Many people believe that this could correlate to the spike in automobile deaths. Yet, maybe the solution does not lie in making more harsh punishments, but making it safer and simpler to use electronics while driving. Instead of making more negatives, we could design vehicles to improve in technology awareness. The NHTSA reports that 27% of the fatal collisions comes from drivers in their 20s. In the state of California, a provisional instruction permit is mandatory to have at least 6 months before you plan on getting your license, between the ages of 15½ and 17½; it would be wise to appeal to this age group especially.
In the state of California, it is illegal for people under the age of 18 to own a cellular device of any kind. In addition, a first offense of using a cellular device while driving for people over the age of 18 is $20, not including other penalty charges and a second offense is $50, not including other penalty charges (other penalty charges can triple the cost or more). Unfortunately, even if a driver does get pulled over and ticketed for texting while driving, they may stop their ways for a week or two, but they will resume their old ways eventually.
I would like to propose a possible solution to increase safety as opposed to asking people to break their habits. Instead of creating more bills to ban texting and driving, we can spend that money and time creating a bluetooth server in every new car with two built in heat sensors. These sensors would be placed on the steering wheel making it so that if the driver gets a call or text, the car can read it to them aloud. If they would wish to respond, the driver would need to place both hands on the sensors. In the case of a call, the driver would need to have both hands on the wheel with the exception that if he/she takes one or both hands off the wheel, they would have ten seconds to return both hands on the wheel again. If they are unable to complete this task, the call would end. In the case of a text, the driver would need to place both hands on the sensors and proceed to speak out what they wish to respond and push down on one of the sensors to send. This is just one way technology can be monitored. Instead of America and its states attempting to change people, why not let them continue to do their activities, just make it safer and simpler for them?
With this new feature, the number of fatal accidents would drastically change for the better. The reason texting and driving is so dangerous is because it demands cognitive, visual, and manual attention. With this feature set in place, all three of these problems would be solved and texting or calling while driving would go from being the most dangerous activity while driving, to as dangerous as talking to just another passenger.