Report: You might be held responsible if a driver you’re texting causes an accident [w/poll]

Filed under: Government/Legal, Safety

texting while driving

There’s no question that driving and texting at the same time is dangerous and illegal. But a lawsuit in New Jersey filed by a couple who were the victims of a texting accident blamed not only the distracted driver who caused it, but also the person who was texting him at the time, CNN reports.

Kyle Best, who was 18 at the time of the accident in 2009, was driving on a rural highway when Shannon Colonna, the 17-year-old girl he was dating, sent him a text. Best allegedly was reading the text when he crossed the double-yellow line and drifted into a lane of opposing traffic. He hit David and Linda Kubert, who were riding a motorcycle. They were injured and lost their legs.

The Kuberts filed suit against Best and Colonna and argued that if she knew that Best was driving when she texted him, she also was responsible for the accident. The Kuberts ended up settling with Best and lost to Colonna, which they appealed. Apparently they left an impression on three appeals court judges who agreed with the principle behind the Kuberts’ appeal, but prosecutors couldn’t prove that Colonna knew Best was driving when she texted him, so she was free to go.

Here’s what the court reportedly said: We hold that the sender of a text message can potentially be liable if an accident is caused by texting, but only if the sender knew or had special reason to know that the recipient would view the text while driving and thus be distracted.

For what it’s worth, this is the state that just rejected a vanity license plate application that read “ATHEIST.”

New Jersey governor Chris Christie disagrees with the appeals court judges who said a text sender like Colonna could be held accountable for a car accident. He says it’s the driver’s responsibility to keep his or her hands on the wheel and pay attention to what’s happening on the road. We have to agree with Christie on this one.

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You might be held responsible if a driver you’re texting causes an accident [w/poll] originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 29 Aug 2013 19:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Video: Watch Werner Herzog’s intense anti-texting-while-driving documentary

Filed under: Safety, Videos

People, if there are any doubts as to just how dangerous texting while driving is, you need to watch this documentary, entitled From One Second to the Next, created by Werner Herzog for AT&T and co-presented by Sprint, Verizon and T-Mobile. The short film starts out by saying that more than 100,000 accidents occur each year by someone who is texting while driving, and then proceeds to tell just four stories that feature people affected (and devastated) as the result of a distracted driver.

The image above is the aftermath of one of the incidents that killed two men, but each of the stories describe the anger, pain, regret and even forgiveness of these easily preventable accidents. This video, which is posted below, is part of the It Can Wait campaign aimed at getting people to pledge not to engage in dangerous driving distractions, including texting, e-mailing and surfing the internet.

Continue reading Watch Werner Herzog’s intense anti-texting-while-driving documentary

Watch Werner Herzog’s intense anti-texting-while-driving documentary originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 09 Aug 2013 19:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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IIHS: New texting laws aren’t reducing accidents

Filed under: Etc., Safety, Technology, By the Numbers

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has just released new findings related to texting-while-driving laws and their effectiveness – the results of which are quite surprising. The Highway Loss Data Institute, an affiliate of the IIHS, compiled claim data for four states; California, Louisiana, Minnesota and Washington. Each state has enacted a ban on texting while driving, and this study examines data for the months before and after the laws went into effect. Earlier this year, the HLDI released data relating to the banning of hand-held cell phones and how those laws had zero effect on crash rates. Its new research refines that study to show that texting bans have produced a more alarming result. In three of the four states examined, crashes increased by three to four percent after the laws were enabled.

Adrian Lund, President of the IIHS and the HLDI, believes the laws do not take into account the overall problem of driving while distracted but merely focus on one aspect of it. Lund states people texted before the laws came into effect and they’re likely doing so after. Drivers may now be texting in ways so as not to get caught doing do, such as lowering their phones and thus drawing their eyes down away from the road. Lund also states that he knows texting while driving is dangerous and there is a crash risk associated with it, but the bans are clearly not reducing that risk.

Not everyone agrees with the IIHS study, however. AAA released a statement today that states, “It is not realistic to expect that simply enacting a law to ban texting while driving will have a large, immediate impact on crash totals in a state in the first months.” The release goes on to add that in addition to laws, public outreach, high-visibility enforcement, substantial penalties and, most importantly, adequate time are needed before a positive effect can be seen. In other words, holds your horses, IIHS. Likewise, The Detroit News D.C. Bureau Chief David Strickland reported live via Twitter from a Senate Commerce meeting today that National Highway Traffic Safety Administration chief David Strickland said he has questions about the IIHS study and that NHTSA still wants to get at the worst kinds of distracted driving, not just texting, adding that a bee or insect in the car has been shown to be the most dangerous kind.

So are drivers in these states merely making texting while driving more dangerous by lowering their phones out of view? The IIHS research indicates this might be the case, or the uptick in accidents might just be a correlation and not causal. Either way, automakers are developing more complex systems to take these tasks out of the equation eventually. The Ford Sync system and the upcoming UVO unit from Kia will answer and read your texts for you. OnStar is also working on a way to integrate Facebook into GM vehicles. These ideas sound silly but they may help reduce our need to grab that phone so we can keep our eyes on the road.

Full release available after the jump.

[Source: IIHS | Image: Getty]

Continue reading IIHS: New texting laws aren’t reducing accidents

IIHS: New texting laws aren’t reducing accidents originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 28 Sep 2010 16:02:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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New Laws: Commercial truck and bus drivers banned from texting while driving

Filed under: Government/Legal, Safety

Ray Lahood mimics phone

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration claims that in 2009 alone, 5,500 fatalities and half a million injuries occurred as a direct result of distracted driving. The problem is so severe that Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood (above) recently felt compelled to address Autoblog readers directly in an effort to spread the word about how dangerous it is to multitask while driving.

The Department of Transportation isn’t resting its hopes on Autoblog, though. The DoT has initiated the second National Distracted Driving Summit this week to shine light on the problem, and the government’s latest offensive isn’t going out to texting teens or phone-obsessed commuters. The early pressure is on drivers transporting hazardous materials, commercial truck and bus drivers and rail operators. LaHood opened this week’s summit by talking up new laws that ban commercial bus and truck drivers from texting and driving, while train operators can no longer legally use cell phones or other electronic devices from the driver’s seat. Companies are also getting in on the act, as 1,600 corporations have banned distracted driving, affecting 10.5 million drivers. Another 500 companies will reportedly follow suit in the next year.

Beyond new laws covering commercial drivers, LaHood and friends are also touting the results of heavily increased enforcement. In Hartford, Connecticut 4,956 tickets have been passed out to texting or talking drivers. Syracuse, New York police have issued another 4,446 citations. We usually get anything but excited when hearing about increased tickets and fines, but the results of the texting and talking crackdown are difficult to ignore. The DoT press release after the jump tells us that surveys and observations claim that phone usage is down 56 percent in Hartford and 38 percent in Syracuse. Further, texting is down 68 percent and 42 percent, respectively. Hit the jump to read over the press release.

[Source: Department of Transportation | Image: AP]

Continue reading New Laws: Commercial truck and bus drivers banned from texting while driving

New Laws: Commercial truck and bus drivers banned from texting while driving originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 22 Sep 2010 18:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Study: Teens don’t think texting while driving is as dangerous as DUI

Filed under: Safety

Texting and Driving

Despite plenty of academic research demonstrating that texting while driving can be just as dangerous as drinking and driving, a new poll shows that most teens simply don’t think that’s the case. State Farm recently sponsored a poll conducted by Harris Interactive in which 14-to-17 year-olds were asked whether they thought they would die one day if they regularly text and drive. Only 35 percent of those asked strongly agreed with that statement. Compare that figure with the 55 percent of teens who think that drinking and driving could prove deadly, and you begin to see the disparity.

Likewise, those polled believed that their chances of getting into an accident are higher while drinking and driving versus texting and driving. The auto insurance giant says that it’s up to parents to underscore the dangers of both activities for their children. We couldn’t agree more – especially after seeing that only a little more than half of the teens surveyed appear to adequately understand the potential consequences of drinking and driving. With public safety groups and parents having already spent decades reminding young people of the dangers of driving under the influence, it looks like it’s going to take at least that long to reach them about the perils of distracted driving. Hit the jump for the press release.

[Source: State Farm | Image: Getty]

Continue reading Study: Teens don’t think texting while driving is as dangerous as DUI

Study: Teens don’t think texting while driving is as dangerous as DUI originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 20 Sep 2010 19:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Latest OnStar focuses on infotainment, adds audio Facebook integration, voice texting

Filed under: Safety, Technology, GM

OnStar Chevrolet Volt

After 15 years of offering comprehensive safety coverage to General Motors vehicle owners, OnStar will be getting a well-deserved boost in functionality to better take on Ford’s Sync and other upstart systems.

New infotainment systems are one of the hottest trends in the automotive marketplace, and GM certainly can’t afford to be behind the curve. Because of this, OnStar will be relaunching its brand image, citing the phrase “responsible connectivity” as the motto for everything moving forward. This means that OnStar won’t just be about safety anymore, though its core values will continue to be improved.

Two of the main infotainment technologies being tested right now are audio Facebook integration and voice text messaging. OnStar recently released a brief bit of information about these two functions, but we were able to attend a presentation to see these new social functions firsthand.

OnStar’s Facebook integration will allow subscribers to post audio status updates directly from the car. These messages will appear as audio updates on the Facebook news feed, and drivers will also have the ability to have their personal news feed read back to them. Even though this technology is still undergoing beta testing, the whole process works relatively seamlessly, though the read-back audio could still benefit from some smoothing-out.

Voice text messaging piggybacks on this same audio technology. Using a Bluetooth-paired phone, drivers can have text messages read to them via the car’s audio system. From there, the driver can press a button on the steering wheel to verbally select one of OnStar’s four pre-set replies – things like, “I received your text message, but am currently driving,” or, “Please call me.”

All of this being tested in correlation with OnStar’s ninth-generation hardware, which improves voice recognition, adds a Bluetooth phonebook, help ‘wizard,’ improved navigation and uses advanced notification services for traffic and weather alerts. This is just the start to what OnStar is working on, though. Stay tuned for a deeper dive into the future technologies OnStar is working to bring to GM vehicles. In the meantime, hit the jump for the official press release.

[Source: OnStar]

Continue reading Latest OnStar focuses on infotainment, adds audio Facebook integration, voice texting

Latest OnStar focuses on infotainment, adds audio Facebook integration, voice texting originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 15 Sep 2010 00:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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GM testing OnStar Facebook and texting functionality

Filed under: Technology, Cadillac, GM

General Motors is ready to bring the fight to Ford’s Sync system with a reworked version of OnStar, but the salient details won’t be revealed for another seven days. However, we’ve gotten word from the General that it’s testing two new features: Audio Facebook updates and voice texting.

On the Facebook front, GM is the experimental phase of integrating OnStar with the 800-pound social media gorilla, allowing users to verbally update their Facebook status via audio recordings, with the possibility of utilizing the OnStar Virtual Advisor feature to read off Facebook status updates and news feeds.

Voice texting works in a similar manner, pairing the driver’s Bluetooth mobile phone to OnStar and allowing the system to read received SMS messages and reply using a voice command to select four pre-set messages. That’s not true voice-to-text functionality, but it’s similar to what’s being offered by other automakers.

GM testing OnStar Facebook and texting functionality originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 08 Sep 2010 13:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Irony Police: State Farm releases texting app to curb distracted driving [w/video]

Filed under: Safety, Technology, Videos

State Farm On The Move Android App

State Farm On The Move Android App – Click above to view the video after the jump

Android geeks have been using a combination of GPS and the Tasker app to let contacts know when they can’t (or won’t) accept text messages or calls (driving, in a movie, etc.). It’s some slick software, but the barrier of entry is a little high for the average smartphone user. So to make things more accessible – and reduce a few claims in the process – auto insurer State Farm has released its own Android application that automatically responds to text messages while on the move.

The combination app/widget provides canned responses or allows users to write a custom message that’s sent anytime they enable the app. Just activate the app and when a text comes in, the program automatically responds so you can keep yours eyes on the road and your hands off the phone.

The app is a free download from Android Market, but for the time being, it’s only available on Google-powered smartphones, with the possibility of iPhone, Blackberry and Windows Mobile versions on the horizon. Hit the jump for the full details and a video of the app in action.

[Source: State Farm]

Continue reading Irony Police: State Farm releases texting app to curb distracted driving [w/video]

Irony Police: State Farm releases texting app to curb distracted driving [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 20 Aug 2010 16:55:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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