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Smart Phones Add to Distracted Driving Epidemic

Ownership increases the desire for more in vehicle connectivity, which will lead to still more needless DD deaths and injuries.

by on Jun.23, 2010

“Death by Cell Phone” is the title of a billboard advertisement from the National Safety Council.

As more vehicle owners trade-in traditional cell phones for “smart phones,” their interest in communication- and connectivity-related features for their vehicle has also increased.

That’s a major – and deeply troubling – finding, in the J.D. Power and Associates 2010 U.S. Automotive Emerging Technologies Study released today.

The study is designed to measure consumer interest for emerging automotive technologies, both before and after an estimated market price is revealed. The results come as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration wrestles with DD – distracted driving – which is responsible for almost 6,000 deaths annually.

The U.S. safety agency also estimates that 515,000 people were injured in police-reported crashes in which at least one form of driver distraction was involved in the accident.  (See Adults Worse than Teens about Cell Distractions)

NHTSA does not have the statutory authority to issue regulations concerning DD. And automakers and electronics companies are making enormous profits from increasing the use of devices that cause distracted driving, without any apparent legal liability. (See Deadly Distracted Driving Expands as Automakers Market More and More Unsafe Devices and also Senate Kicks Distracted Driving Back to the States )

The study finds that among the 51% of vehicle owners who have a smart phone, interest levels for wireless connectivity systems are higher than the industry average, both before and after the price is revealed. Before price is revealed, 77% of smart phone owners indicate interest in wireless connectivity systems for their vehicles, compared with the industry average of 64%. (This industry average is also troubling.)

More than one-half (56%) of vehicle owners with smart phones are interested in mobile routers, compared with an industry average of 46%. In addition, 47% are interested in having an in-dash computer versus a 38% industry average.

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DD!

“Although several states have imposed bans on drivers using hand-held devices and one-half of states have or are in the process of implementing bans on texting while driving, this legislation has not necessarily put a stop to how vehicle owners are manipulating these devices,” said Amy Jacobs, manager of automotive emerging technologies research at J.D. Power and Associates.

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