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”How to Stop People From Texting While Driving” (NYT/Room for Debate)

Most states have banned texting while driving, but distracted driving only seems to be getting worse. In New York, legislators introduced a bill that would allow police officers arriving at the scene of a crash to test drivers’ phones for evidence of recent activity with a device called the “Textalyzer” ( — the digital equivalent of the Breathalyzer. 

Is this the best way to deal with public health consequences of texting and driving? What else can be done to stop this pervasive practice?

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Astounding how popular it is despite the clear danger it presents to all on the road. 

"We compulsively check our phones because every time we get an update through text, e-mail or social media, we experience an elevation of dopamine, which is a neurochemical in the brain that makes us feel happy," said Greenfield in a statement. "If that desire for a dopamine fix leads us to check our phones while we're driving, a simple text can turn deadly."

According to the study, more than 90 percent of those surveyed know that texting and driving is dangerous, but those who admit they do it anyway find ways to rationalize their behavior. And, said Greenfield, founder of the Center for Internet and Technology Addiction at the university, that is a classic sign of addiction.

The most common rationalization, stated by 30 percent of survey respondents, is that they're easily able to do several things at the same time, like driving and checking their phones.

"However," said Greenfield, "many objective studies show that's not possible."

I agreed that it's not possible. 

I wonder if there's any way to prevent the dopamine hit. 

PSA: "Losers Text", with photos showing, 1) injured people after their accidents, 2) people who were killed and their coffins.

No music, no lecture, and done quickly and unobtrusively. It will present to the cocky, "it can't happen to me" people without them 'losing face' if they instead had to give in to authority.

I think a lot if people forget when they're in the moment. 

If auto insurance companies offered their customers a HUGE discount for installing an app (yet to be developed) that turned off their ability to text while their cars are moving (or doubled their rate if they refused to install the app)....thoughts? Car tech would have to work hand in glove with the app to help avoid gaming the system.

Changing addictive behavior, like smoking, requires education and disincentives, like Marlene's PSA idea above.  

I like this idea a lot. Turn off not just texting but the Facebook app, Twitter app, Snapchat app, etc. 

Safer Alternatives for Drivers Who Text Are Just Around the Corner

(Debater) Jake Fisher is the director of auto testing for Consumer Reports' Auto Test Center

”Every auto manufacturer now provides very capable infotainment systems, and some provide decent smartphone integration. Make no mistake, many create distractions themselves — and when new technologies threaten consumers’ safety, Consumer Reports will continue to call them out. But the best provide excellent voice controls, steering wheel buttons, and large, clear screens that help prevent handheld smartphone use. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto go further by providing users with a familiar — and safer — interface for their smartphone. These systems are becoming increasingly available on new vehicles, and make it possible to receive and reply to texts by using conversational language and without taking your eyes off the road.

Ultimately, any type of communication behind the wheel carries some risk and distracts the driver from the primary task of navigating a quickly moving two-ton vehicle. But this technical problem may benefit from a technical solution. And until cars learn to drive themselves, the computers in our cars can help communication become less complicated and potentially a lot less distracting.”

Seems like technology will solve problems that other technology creates. Eventually. 

Like taking meds to offset the untoward effects from other meds.

Right. Consumption societies incentivize making problems then making solutions. 

Incentivize People to Ignore Their Phones While Driving

(DebaterSarah Doody is a user experience and product designer. She blogs at and is on Twitter (@sarahdoody).

To change people’s behavior, we must change the trigger — in this case, the text or call notification — that causes the behavior in the first place. 

One app, LifeSaver, attempts to block the temptation: Once installed on a mobile phone, it automatically locks the device in about three seconds after driving starts. When driving stops, it can unlock just as quickly or it can be configured to wait longer (60 seconds) to discourage usage at stop lights. The app can't distinguish passenger from driver, or car movement from that of a train, but its aim is to protect teenage drivers: Parents can incentivize good behavior — and encourages teens not to over-ride the lock on the device — by setting monthly rewards for them based on data that tracks phone activity in a moving vehicle. 

This concept of rewards could incentivize adults as well, most especially if those rewards were tied to credits on auto insurance. 

If people were incentivized against picking up their phones while driving, that trigger, that seductive ding, might be somewhat defanged. 

Mobile phones have become so integral to society, it is not fully effective to rely on people to have the self-discipline to not use their devices without a true incentive to do otherwise."

Beautiful concept but shouldn't all phones do this automatically?

Snapchat’s ‘Speed’ filter cited in lawsuit following Atlanta highway crash

Will be interesting to see what the court finds. 

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