Case 1308: Texting While Driving (TWD) issue

9-2-2013

Case 1308: Texting While Driving (TWD) issue

On Monday August 19th, this column featured “Texting While Driving” (TWD) craze now sweeping America. Readers’ response was swift and furious. Immediately we received many emails condemning the activity, and wanting law enforcement organizations to impose stiffest penalty to the drivers. Some emails stated that DWI is on the decline due to stiff penalty including loss of driver’s license. Why couldn’t we do the same to TWD? Some argued TWD is more dangerous as the driver is NOT looking ahead, and an accident could happen at a high speed.

 

Regarding possible solutions, two people independently contacted me stating that they have been working on the technological solutions, and they would demonstrate their prototypes to me when they can be shown. I am looking forward to their proposed solutions. I will report on this column when that happens.

 

There are several apps for smartphones available in the market place. FleetSafer Mobile® app for truckers blocks calls, texts and emails while the driver is at the wheel. But all these apps can be turned off, and that is a problem for undisciplined drivers who are addicted to texting/calling.

 

This week, as the conclusion of the Texting While Driving Series, we will show you two simple tables of “Time to Impact” v.s. speed of your car.

 

EXPERIMENT: I have asked two people to text the following line: “Do U wanna go to movie tonite?” The experiment was conducted in a parked auto with the driver’s left hand on the steering wheel, and the right hand holding a smart phone and typing. Two people took roughly 30 seconds to complete the text and push “SEND” button.

 

Chart I: How far does the car travel in that 30 seconds at various speed?

This is a very easy question, and any grammar school kids can produce correct answers. However, I wonder when these kids become teenagers and get driver’s license, suddenly they seem to forget what they did learn in their arithmetic class and love speed without fully knowing the extent of danger involved. The graphic shows the distance traveled in a mere 30 second, 20 and 10 at various speeds. A simple thing to remember is that your car travels half mile in 30 seconds at 60 mph. It is a huge distance. This chart is accompanied with a graphic FIG 1: Distance Traveled Given Speed.

 

 

 

 

Table II: How long does it take for the car to drift into the opposite traffic lane on a secondary Two-Lane road?

 

All lanes of secondary roads are usually 11~12ft wide. Assuming you travel on the middle of the lane, your car’s center is 6ft away from the road’s centerline. So, this calculation is to find “how long does it take for your car to drift into the opposing traffic lane given various speed?” The results startle you. If your steering wheel is cocked by 1 degree (a slight angle) the car would take only 3.9 seconds to drift over the divider yellow lines at 60 mph. But, if there is an on-coming car on the opposite traffic lane at the same speed, the combined collision speed is 120 mph, at which the accident would be very severe with possible fatalities. That’s why TWD accidents are much worse than DWI caused accidents. This chart is accompanied with FIG 2: Time To Drift To Opposing Lane.

 

The case 1308 TWD comes to an end for now, however, I strongly urge readers to communicate with this column to send your comments, potential solutions or method of educating the public. I believe TWD is a form of addiction, and it will be very hard to eradicate just like DWI used to be till law had been applied seriously. If you have a technical solution, we would like to hear from you especially.

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