While the advances in and widespread use of cellphones has done us a lot of good – such as always having a way to call for help in case of an emergency – these gadgets have come with their perils as well.
One of the most serious consequences of cell phone use is when people decide to send text messages or talk on the phone while behind the wheel – leading to many accidents and deaths that could have been prevented had the driver been paying attention.
According to TextingandDrivingSafety.com, nearly a quarter of all car crashes in 2011 involved cell phones. This translates to 1.3 million accidents which did not have to happen. Texting while driving has been found to make the chances of a crash nearly 23 times as likely.
Studies have shown that 27 percent of adults admit to texting behind the wheel. In other studies, nearly half of adults surveyed admitted to this dangerous behavior. Additionally, 34 percent of adolescents between the ages of 18 and 20 admitted they had texted while they drove.
The frightening thing is, 77 percent of the teenagers surveyed felt either “very confident” or “somewhat confident” that they could text and drive safely. It is this false sense of confidence that leads people to think that texting while driving is no big deal, although it has been shown to significantly impact concentration, and is responsible for many accidents.
It is precisely this problem that the Inventioneers, a group of teenage inventors from New Hampshire, sought to address when they developed the SMARTwheel. The name of the invention stands for Safe Motorist Alert for Restricting Texting, Tweeting, Typing, Touchscreens, Takeout and Touch-up – all activities some drivers perform on the road which can draw their attention away from their driving.
The SMARTwheel, which is currently awaiting a patent, is made to be attached to the steering wheel of a vehicle, and provides visual and audio signals when either one hand or both hands are removed from the wheel for too long. It also senses when both hands are next to each other on the wheel, in a common position used for texting.
SMARTwheel keeps track of how an individual is driving over time, and can be programmed to send the results of its driving evaluation to parents (in the case of teens), to employers (in the case of someone driving a company vehicle), or to a parole officer (for those with a history of legal trouble and unsafe driving).
Although the Inventioneers have not yet received their patent for this device, they have tested it at both the White House and MIT, with positive results.
With this invention, this group of amazing teens could do a lot of good in preventing distracted driving – and likely save lives – should they receive their patent.
-The Alternative Daily