Navigating You Right Into A Brick Wall

from the common-sense,-whazzat? dept

We’ve discussed, repeatedly, the rise of gadgets in cars and how driver distraction is increasingly a problem. The latest study to support this suggests that, for some, vehicle navigation systems are making them less safe. Some people become so reliant on their in-car nav systems that they never bother to figure out where they’re going beforehand, meaning that during the ride, they’re more likely to be paying extra attention to the nav system, and not necessarily as much attention to the road — potentially making things more dangerous. This isn’t surprising, but the answer isn’t to try to crack down on driver distractions one by one. Obviously, for many, the overall benefit of having an in-car navigation system outweigh the downsides of a group of people who can’t figure out how to drive safely with one. Yet, instead of focusing on ways to make the products safer and make the people more aware of the danger they put themselves and others into when it comes to driver distraction — the focus is just one what to ban inside cars next. That’s the wrong way around it. There’s always going to be yet another distraction. Banning it is just going after the symptoms and not the root cause.

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Comments on “Navigating You Right Into A Brick Wall”

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that d00d says:

No Subject Given

I’ve got an idea! Let’s ban flashing lights, cellphones, noisemakers of any kind, computers, maps, kids, relatives, and friends in cars. In fact, let’s just ban all seats except the driver’s seat in the car. After all, just about everything in a car is a distracting element, no?

I love people who blame tech and such rather than analyzing what they could do to make things safer or better.

Goober says:


I think we should ban all the billboards along the road, they are really distracting! The ugly benches with ads, ads on bus stops, ads on busses. The city looks like a garbage dump when you got all these colorfull bilboards .. WHat ever happened to scenic views.. even thos turn out to be “Scennic Views SPONSORED BY KODAK” its a bunch of crap, I dont want to see KODAK fuck up the beautifull scenery, McDonalds shit food commericals on everything. NOW THAT SHIT IS DISTRACTHING!

Not only that, you go home and you get distracted by those damn commercials on TV, WHAT THE FUCK!!!

Old Not Bold says:

Auto navigation

More technology inside cars will require more training. Like improvements in avionic technology for aircraft, advancements in auto navigation systems have radically changed how we travel; but NO pilot would dream of climbing into an aircraft and flying somewhere without a thorough study of its hi-tech navigation systems first. Imagine REQUIRING a certificate of competence before you can drive a certain car!

Car drivers are depressingly flippant about both the attention and the education required to operate safely their increasingly more complex vehicles. Lately my desire that people should learn to drive safely has devolved into a much less ambitious requirement that they should just be able to navigate a curve without putting on the brakes. I would be thrilled if yer average Joe would just simply PAY ATTENTION while driving.

If states stop legislating what you can’t do and start educating about how to do it, we’ll go a long way toward reducing the risk that someone runs over something important while distracted by nagging nellie or bitching betty. It’ll require someone at DMV to actually understand GPS, and it’ll mean the 40-yr old driving tests might have to actually change, which may be more of a challenge than teaching Joe Schmo how to program his GPS without causing an accident.

Don Gray says:

Re: Auto navigation

I agree with your premise.

Instead of “dumbing down” the driving experience for the bovine drivers, how about we have a REAL driver training / qualification program.

We could start by teaching some simple basics:

– The left lane is for passing. If you are not passing get the hell out of it.
– Tunnels are just as wide as the roadway unless otherwise posted, and yes there will be a change in brightness when entering the tunnel. This does not require jamming on the brakes.
– Being in the lane next to someone who is slowing for a turn-off does not require you to slow down as well. Really, it’s OK, pass them at speed.
– When to engage in turn-taking and when to pipeline.
– Proper stop-sign etiqeutte. Meekness will get you T-boned.
– Proper driving style changes for wet, snowy, and foggy roads.
– How not to pull out in front of that car.

Combine this with stringent testing that results in a much higher bar being set to get a license. And frequent (every 4 years) re-tests for everybody.

Add a day at the track so people can learn how to drive a car at something closer to the extremes so they can feel confident at road speeds.

Reform the insurance rules from “last chance to avoid the accident” to a bias towards “first chance to prevent the accident”

Raise the speed limits to force the issue.

If I was in-charge of issuing driving licenses, my mother-in-law would be taking the shoe-leather express. That woman scares the hell out of me.

m0u5y says:

No Subject Given

now if the cars would so some really useful stuff like capping the speed depending on the speed limit. tired of having people on the right go 20 percent of the speed limit while people on the left go 200 percent. also they should have cars make annoying screaching sounds when you get too close to another car, or anything else for that matter. the more tech you get, the dumber the drivers get. i bet some of these new gens can?t drive the run of the mill stick shift computerless roll down window automobile.

Anonymous Coward says:

No Subject Given

lets just dumb the cars down, and if you want the navigation, you have a map on the seat next to you and a compass on the console… problem solved.
or in the case of the company i work for, we work with laptops in the trucks on mounts, and if we drive with the top up, then we are suspended, if we get in an avoidable wreck and were looking at the laptop we are fired…. (cameras in the trucks monitor major g forces and record only the useful info)

Anonymous Coward says:

No Subject Given

i believe there is a law about having monitors in the front on while driving is illegal in louisiana, some people get away with it, but how bout the map speaks only while moving and if stopped the screen comes on, then nobody looks at the map while driving, and when they pull over bc they are confused the screen turns on.

Muslickz (user link) says:


Driving is too Distracting to Drivers.
Recent studies propose that the actual act of driving is the leading cause of accidents. Similar reports show that driving may in fact be too distracting to drivers. Local police have brought up the notion of removing the steering wheel and all pedals. Anyone caught paying attention to the road may be severely fined and/or have their license revoked.

Professor Highbrow says:

Re: Re: OMG

Recent studies propose that the actual act of driving is the leading cause of accidents.

AHA! I like your style, Muslick. If we just banned driving, problem solved. No more accidents, no more roads. We can all just “imagine” that we’re in a different “place.”

While we’re at it, since “TV is bad for your eyes” Lets make that illegal too. Plus this whole MP3 music sharing thing is really upsetting the powers that be, so the clear solution is to just make those illegal. Then we’ll be free from all these problems…

But wait, people are using their computers to express upsetting and new ideas over the internet, so we need to ban those…

Awe Sh*t, now everyone is trying to write books with pens and pass those damn books around. Let’s throw them into a pile and burn ’em all.

Now everyone is running around setting everything on fire… and beating each other over the head with rocks…

Yep, it works every time. Let’s just regulate the hell out of people’s personal liberties to benefit society. Hitler would be proud.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Media hates what they can't afford.....

Part of the reason the media loves these stories is that they are class stories:
– a few years ago, only the affluent / mobile professionals had cell phones; therfore the notion of “banning” them was largely lobbed at some entertaining stereotypes
– today, few but the affluent / mobile professionals have NAV in their cars (yikes — often these are SUVs!). Hence discussion of “banning” NAV is again lobbed at a specific class.

Sure, in both cases, these technologies became / are becoming more mainstream. As they do, the “backlash” is muted.

Ask the people writing these stories if they own a car with NAV and the answer will be no 95% of the time — they are urban, liberal, and middle-class who don’t have the $.

dani says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Media hates what they can't afford.....

“Media hates what they can’t afford”

The people writing the stories aren’t the ones attempting and/or passing these laws. Media may be biased, but they don’t make the laws and probably rarely push to have a law enacted.

I don’t particularly like the fact that there are a million laws that make it where I can’t do certain things. But we have to remember, everyone’s not lucky enough to be as gifted as us.

There are complete morons in the world. Some people can barely drive as is, now we’re telling them to drive while they talk on the phone, program their GPS, and change the radio station as their making a left hand turn.

Sometimes, in bigger cities where most everyone has the money to afford the toys and you’re surrounded by monstrous SUVs and crew cab pickups, you wish there WAS a ban on cell phones, eating, nav-systems, putting on makeup, and every other thing you see people trying to do in rush hour traffic.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Media hates what they can't afford.....

Lots of examples given of other ways that drivers are distracted. Better education, as suggested by several, is important. No one went the other way–stop blaming one issue at a time! Here’s a damn fine start: From the The Denver Business Journal – April 5, 2002 by Amy Bryer:
…Sprint, another participant in the NCSL study — proposes an all-encompassing law that doesn’t single out any one particular technology or behavior and is punishable with a $50 fine if existing dangerous-driving laws in the state are not sufficient.

The law prohibits inattentive driving defined as, but not limited to: “reading; writing; consuming food, beverages or tobacco; changing garments; the use of mobile telephones, AM, FM or CB radios, audio, or video cassettes players, compact radios; radar detectors; personal digital assistants; geographic positions system receivers or similar devices; applying makeup, shaving, combing hair, or attending to other forms of personal grooming; or interactions with passengers or pets.”…

Dani says:

Re: No Subject Given

“map speaks only while moving…”

That makes more sense then banning an in-car nav system. Is it not just as dangerous and distracting to read an old-fashioned map (especially if u have to fold it) than to look at a map on a gps screen?

From what I’ve seen on the roads lately, most people should be walking. They can’t seem to handle the distraction of driving in general. Then they put the cell phone to the ear…OH NO!

And why is it necessary to slam your brakes as soon as you enter a tunnel? Get rid of the tunnels, they’re obviously a distraction too.

Michael Vasovski says:

it is distracting

Sometimes it causes me to freak out. I’ll look at the nav screen and then look up. Once my eyes are back on the road, I’m like, “How long was I looking at that?” And it scares me that a car or even worse a person could get out in front of me and I’d completely miss it. And the reason I turned the voice guidance off is b/c it’s so annoying… “Exit approaching in one mile… Exit approaching in 1/2 mile… Exit approaching in 900 feet…” You get the idea. The information is completely redundant and unnecessary. All in all, the system is okay. But it should be more user-customizable.

Michael says:

No Subject Given

As time goes on, driving becomes more and more complex and people increasingly take it for granted, leading to the horrendous state of things as they are today.

I won’t restate the arguments, because I think they’re well made, but I’ll will cast my vote in that driving is a privilage to the few who are able to prove they can both operate the vehicle’s systems , explain the vehicle physics, and navigate real-world road scenarios.

I’ll add an example. I once had a woman at a gas station walk up to me and ask me to help her out of a “jam”. I walked over to her car with her, and she showed me the problem. What she had done was, while trying to pull away from a gas pump located on her left, and turned her wheel completely left and attemped to go. While her front wheel successfully cleared the pump as she had expected, her rear wheel didn’t. She couldn’t understand how that could happen, and couldn’t figure out how to get out of the situation, either. I explained that she should turn on her car, turn her wheel once again to the left, and back up a foot, straighten out, pull forward, and THEN turn left. She actually CHALLENGED me! I persisted, she followed my instructions, and lo and behold, cleared the pump.

I still can’t believe that actually happened.

emichan says:

No Subject Given

This is another example of people being SO quick to legislate that they punish the many for the actions of a few.

It seems like, for the most part, legislating problems like this doesn’t work! Making things illegal doesn’t stop people from doing them!

I know this sounds stupid, but how about EDUCATING people instead of LEGISLATING them to death!!! I have a feeling that teaching people how to make better decisions (like deciding what to use / not use while driving) will be a lot more effective than spottily enforced laws. But that would require more effort than just throwing some useless law at the problem…

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