People debate the topic, but I’ve heard few, if any, solutions. After doing some quick research online I’ve found the top reason for automobile accidents is, obviously, distracted driving. Within this rather broad category texting ranks at the top, radio and personal audio devices come in at number two, and the fifth is eating. Not to put to put my neck in the noose, but I’m guilty of all three, though texting I’ve kept to stop lights. 😉
While there are laws designed to address the issue, they do little to deter those determined to keep up the habit. I drive a lot, and most people (yes, I really do mean more than half) I pass or glance at are preoccupied with handheld devices. I suppose technology will eventually perfect the ease of use with voice commands, but what do we do in the meantime?
So, at the risk of pissing off a lynching party, here is my proposal. I feel a failsafe device could be installed that does two things. One- If pressure and heat aren’t registered in two places on the steering wheel for less than say, ten seconds, then a loud annoying alarm sounds in the cab. Two- All the outside lights begin to rapidly flash letting other motorists know what the offending driver is doing. Yea, I can hear the crowds groaning in opposition already, but I think I can solve their objection to the idea.
Don’t make it mandatory, offer it as either an option or as required by the courts; more on that a little later. If installed, the rates in insurance might drop dramatically, especially for young drivers. This wouldn’t be for everyone, that’s for sure. Many, including myself, like to drive using only one hand, but we are talking about a severe solution to an even more severe problem.
Our vehicles are packed with safety features. To those just beginning drive at the turn of the century some one-hundred and fifteen years ago airbags, back-up lights, turn signals, seat belts, electric starters, anti-lock brakes, and even windshield wipers would probably come across to those folks as overwhelming, expensive, and unnecessary. Even today most use most, and a few reject a few. Heck, all of us know someone who still refuses to wear their seatbelts.
Let’s say there’s a driver who has been in multiple incidents where texting was an issue. Perhaps the courts would allow leniency to this individual if they were to install this device on their vehicle. Don’t forget, breathalyzers that will disable the starting system if an elevated alcohol content is detected ARE installed in some cases by court order to monitor and offer some freedom to people who must drive to earn a living. Extreme? You bet, but it IS a solution, at least for the moment. And let’s face it, how hard would it really be to get used to using both hands on the steering wheel if it meant lower insurance bills and in some cases keeping your driver’s license? This seems to be a rather small price to pay in the long run.
I envision a locking battery-powered steering wheel cover that sends a remote signal to the lighting system of the car in use. The interior alarm would also be connected in the same fashion. There’s no way our technology can’t come up with a relatively inexpensive and easy to install setup.
Those who own and run commercial fleets might want to maintain even more discipline from their drivers using this idea. Let’s face it, they already have the options of speed governing controls and GPS tracking.
I’m open-minded to other solutions but I haven’t heard anything past writing more laws. If you’ve got another idea I’d love to hear it.
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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood
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