Over 40,000 people suffered fatal injuries in the United States last year, largely due to the increase of distracted driving. There has been an influx of phone usage in cars, likely to be the biggest contributor to fatal and debilitating accidents. Additional distractions while driving include eating, arguing with other passengers, or adjusting music on a device. Researchers are working to better understand how the human brain reacts to such hindrances, and how to use the resulting data to better prevent future car wrecks from occurring.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Age Lab and Touchstone Evaluations are receiving funding from major auto and tech players, such as Honda, Land Rover, Jaguar, Panasonic, and Google. This human factored engineering firm, based out of Michigan, aims to pinpoint how humans interact within their cars. The goal is to find and shape common behavior behind the wheel to decrease the likelihood of car accidents.
Newer model cars are stocked with an assortment of bells, whistles, and other divertissements. These flashy features, however, can cause interferences to driver attention, leading to fatal outcomes. Researchers are aiming to find ways on how to use these features to benefit drivers, not to distract and debilitate them. In 2012, a study was performed throughout six states on 2,600 vehicles, which were outfitted with cameras and sensors for one year. The resulting data provided an objective and detailed database of driving behavior. Many scientists researching accidents only look at footage four to five seconds prior to the crash. However, MIT Researchers decided to delve further and analyze accidents 20 seconds before they occur.
An engineer who studies driver behavior says that driver attention failure occurs long before a crash happens. It is crucial that drivers learn how to manage their situational awareness to prevent accidents. Lisa Angell, who previously worked for General Motors, but now heads Touchstone, says they are working towards putting an algorithm in place to capture human attention awareness. This data would help automakers develop better products to enhance cars with. Researchers tested one algorithm, AttenD, that has been used since 2009 to predict what drivers are doing up to 20 seconds before a crash occurs. It will be useful in developing and testing safer car dashboards.
Current divertissements in cars tend to distract, rather than aid the driver because they require attention to be diverted at inopportune moments. Improvements to instrument panel technology could include hard stops on car screens, which would prevent people from navigating through menus to pull up a play list when weather isn’t ideal and thus focus on the road. Another idea is for the screens to queue calls and texts, so notifications don’t come through when a vehicle is being operated, further reducing the likelihood of a driver being distracted.
It could take years for this technology to come into play, and in the meantime, car accidents from distracted driving are commonplace. Cell phone usage on the road has become rampant and a great deal of work needs to be done to find ways to reduce driver inattentiveness.
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If you or a loved one has been in a car crash, a lifetime of debilitating injuries and financial suffering could ensue. At Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A., we have been dedicated for over three decades with helping our clients recover faster with the compensation they deserve for their injuries. Call one of our experienced Columbia car accident lawyers today at (803) 929-3600 or contact us online for a consultation. With six convenient office locations throughout South Carolina, you can rely on us to ensure justice is served.