Trucks at Work

Deploying technology to deal with distracted driving

There’s no question that distracted driving is becoming the cause de jour among safety advocates these days – and for the right reason.

Consider this statistic, courtesy of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA): In 2013, some 3,154 people were killed in crashes caused by distracted driving. With on average some 30,000 lives lost to roadway crashes every year in America, that means distracted driving is the root cause of over 10% of those fatalities.

That right there is why a host of technological solutions are being offered to deal with the behaviors that lead to distracted driving.

Seeing Machines is the latest foray into this particular safety arena, with its computer-vision DSS technology designed to track driver eye and facial movement as a way to detect both driver fatigue and distractive driving in real time. The video below gives you a sense of how it works.

Part of the issue with distracted driving is that many drivers simply don’t recognize how “cognitive dissonance,” to use the fancy phrase, affects their ability to safely operate any type of motor vehicle:

Of course, distracted driving doesn’t exist in a vacuum – it’s only one factor that can heighten the risk of a crash.

Think about this, too: often times, truck drivers are the ones doing the right things behind the wheel and don’t cause the majority of truck-car crashes anyways. (See this story for more details on that all-too-often overlooked data point.)

That’s another area where several systems designed to help reduce distracted driving events can lend a hand, as the video below demonstrates:

So while on the one hand technology can spur distracted driving behavior, on the other, it can help negate it in many cases as well. That’s an interesting paradox that operators of motor vehicles large and small will need to grapple with for the foreseeable future.

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