Each year, thousands of auto accidents take place in Florida, leading to numerous injuries and deaths as well as millions of dollars in property damage. And one of the leading culprits in car accidents is cellphone usage.
One of the first steps in trying to minimize motor vehicle accidents that are caused by cellphone use is to gain an accurate understanding of how widespread the problem is. Certain technological advances are aiding researchers and policymakers in coming to that understanding.
Up to this point, the primary way in which researchers have tried to gauge driver cellphone use has been through monitoring – in other words, watching drivers to see how often they use their cellphones. This can be done by actual human witnesses stationed at a location or remotely via camera.
The remote monitoring method seems more promising for the future, especially with the advent of AI technology. Using AI, researchers may be able to start to build profiles that will let them identify likely cellphone users based on similarities within enormous data sets, which could help decrease car accidents.
Using cellphones themselves
Possibly the most effective way to monitor cellphone usage by drivers is using the devices themselves. Currently, cellphones have an array of options for tracking real-time movement of the phone. These are often used for applications like step counters and GPS directions.
But it would be possible for the phones to record logs of when a person has lifted up or engaged a device, and based on GPS coordinates, it would be possible to know whether that person was traveling at speeds and in a position consistent with operating a vehicle.
Of course, it would be necessary to get opt-ins from people to employ methods like these. But they could be tied to incentives like insurance discounts or similar offers.
Driving while operating a cellphone is a major hazard on the road, and understanding the scope of this issue is of great importance. Developments in technology are offering researchers some new options in coming to terms with this problem.