We recently published a report showing the prevalence of mobile phone use while driving. Drivers in the US and Western Europe - particularly smartphone owners - readily admit to reading and writing text messages and emails every day behind the wheel. Some quick numbers to digest:
-Every day, 38% of US smartphone owners and 40% of smartphone owners in Western Europe compose at least one text message while driving
-Every day, 40% in the US and 42% in Western Europe read at least one text message behind the wheel
-Every day, 40% US smartphone owners write at least one email while driving
The answer thus far has been to legislate the problem away. However, it does not appear to be working. We recently conducted a survey with 198 smartphone owners in California, which has laws banning handheld phone calls and texting while driving. For smartphone owners at least, the laws haven't made an impact.
- 49% of smartphone owners in California report reading text messages every day
- 40% admit to sending them every day
If we are really concerned about safety, passing laws isn't going to solve the issue. Technology has to. Research has shown that speech recognition can mitigate the effects of driver distraction if well-designed. However, attempts by the auto industry to deploy this technology has been met with less than positive results. OnStar's announcements providing speech interaction to update one's Facebook status was widely criticized. That criticism is not warranted, and can make some OEM's gun shy to deploy these technologies that will keep drivers safer.
For more information, please see the following ACI reports:
Widespread Use of SMS and Email While Driving
Driver Distraction: Relevant Research and Implications for Public Policy