Over the weekend I happened to see a commercial for Audi’s new handwriting recognition pad in the center console.
Handwriting recognition pad?
In a car???
It’s no longer breaking news that texting while driving is a bad idea. A 2009 Virginia Tech Transportation Institute study reveals just how dangerous it can be. The VTTI examined the behavior of truck drivers over more than 6 million miles and found that people who send text messages while driving are 23 times more likely to be in a crash (or what they call a “near-crash event”) than undistracted drivers.
The study used in truck cameras to capture where the drivers’ eyes were looking as they drove, dialed cell phones, talked on the cell phones, reached for objects around the cab, and texted. Not surprisingly, the tasks that took a driver’s eyes off the road caused ramped up the risk.
In crashes or near-crashes, texting took a driver’s focus away from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. That’s more than three times the average reaction time to jam on the brakes when a tree — or a kid — jumps out in front of you. It’s enough time to travel the length of a football field at highway speeds.
I crashed my mom’s Comet convertible when I was a teenager. I didn’t have a cellphone. I couldn’t text. But I did have a car radio. I took my eyes off the road just for an instant and a culvert jumped right out in front of me.
Mom was not pleased.
The VTTI agrees. Avoiding any task that takes your eyes off the road avoids taking your car off the road.
Last month, Audi announced a national initiative to have drivers across America take the Audi “Drivers Pledge” to make the road a more intelligent and presumably safer place. They encourage all drivers to take a stand exemplifying responsible driving: