Driving Distracted in the Cloud(s)

December 31, 2018 Off By David

Article Written by Avery Phillips

Modern technology has crept into our lives and become essential in so many ways. We are able to reach our children whenever we need to, can take quality photos at the click of a button, navigate to and from various destinations in an unfamiliar place, and text our friends about lunch plans all on one device. What’s not to love? 

Although there are certainly oodles of benefits associated with our smart devices, we humans seem to have a difficult time discerning when these benefits are best put to use – especially when it comes to our devices and driving. Sure, smartphone apps including navigation features have revolutionized the ways in which we are able to get around in a new or unfamiliar area, and apps designed to help us find carpooling and/or taxi services have made our short commutes distinctively easier. But at what cost? 

Driving distractions associated with smart devices are skyrocketing, begging the question, why are we paying more attention to our devices than our fellow humans? Can technological advances, namely the development of driverless cars, help us kick back our distracted driving problems?

Distracted Stats

Stats associated with technology use and driving are somewhat spooky. For instance an estimated 25 percent of all car accidents in 2018 are linked to distracted driving. The Department of Motor Vehicles estimates that 9 people in the U.S. are killed every single day as a result of crashes involving a distracted driver. At any given point during the day, approximately 660,000 people are attempting to use a technological device while driving their vehicle. 

Part of the problem is that many people don’t really take the issue seriously; 59 percent of drivers who describe themselves as "rarely distracted" also talk on cellular phones while behind the wheel. According to national statistics, texting while driving is 6 times more likely to cause an accident than drunk driving. If that isn’t sobering, there isn’t much that is. 

Nearly 74 percent of Americans recognize and support regulation on cellular activities while behind the wheel. Accidents are expensive, even if there are not any injuries. Dealing with things such as insurance after an accident, as well as mechanical repairs and damage done to a driving record, are monumental hassles. 

Tech to the Rescue…?

In some ways, technology may actually make a positive difference in our ability to safely operate a vehicle. One of the major technological advances on this front is the development of driverless car capabilities. Furthermore, tech may even make it easier to document issues when accidents do happen to occur. 

The development of driverless cars uses cloud computing that enables the vehicles to follow technical coding and if-then statements to follow traffic laws and avoid accidents on the road. They would follow updated maps to plan and execute the quickest route to a destination based upon current conditions. Additionally, driverless cars would communicate with each other to coordinate safe maneuvering at high speeds, all while passengers relax and enjoy a good book during their commute.  

Supporters of the driverless car technology estimate that upwards of 90 percent of all traffic accidents could be avoided if all vehicles on the road were driverless. Distracted driving accidents would be all but eliminated. Furthermore, the cars could be optimized to reduce emissions by up to 60 percent, providing another boon to human health. 

Or Another Problem in the Making?

Of course, there are a number of skeptics when it comes to the introduction of driverless cars as well. Only an estimated 20 percent of Americans would trust a driverless car on the road at this point. Many with backgrounds in technology raise serious questions about the cars’ ability to handle complicated scenarios brought about by the general unpredictability of the human race. 

One major concern stems from the ability of cloud computing software to keep up with things as they are happening on the ground. Gamers will know this concern as "computing lag." Often times, in the best devices, lag time can be around one tenth of a second. In many driving scenarios this small bit of time can be a significant difference in the ability to avoid having an accident. Quick reactions are absolutely necessary 100 percent of the time in driverless cars. 

Another concern with the use of cloud computing software in driverless car technology is the intensive data security issues. As with any cloud technology, driverless cars will be subject to risks of hacking that could result in numerous accidents. Any driverless car that makes it to the market will have to be strongly protected from hacking risks. 

The development of driverless car technology could be a significant means of combating our technology-based distracted driving problem. Although there are certainly still a number of substantial issues that need to be worked out when it comes to incorporating the cloud into our vehicles, there is the potential of a huge benefit of lives saved on the other side. 


About the Author

Avery Phillips is a unicorn of a human being who loves all things relating to people and their entrepreneurial spirits. Comment down below or tweet her @a_taylorian.

Credit Photo: pixabay.com