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2015 Edition, January 1, 2015

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Distracted driving is a very serious issue. According to Distraction.gov, the official U.S. Government website for distracted driving, 3,328 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver in the United States in 2012, the latest year for which data is available.1 It is estimated that another 421,000 were injured.2 In addition to this human tragedy, all drivers suffer negative consequences because insurance payouts that result from distracted driving accidents cause everyone's insurance rates to go up.

The causes of distracted driving are varied. The most common distractions are:3

1. Generally distracted or "lost in thought" (daydreaming): 62%

2. Cell phone use (talking, listening, dialing, texting): 12%

3. Paying attention to an outside person, object or event: 7%

4. Interacting with other occupants: 5%

5. Using or reaching for a device in the vehicle, such as a portable GPS system or headphones: 2%

6. Eating or drinking: 2%

7. Adjusting audio or climate controls: 2%

8. Operating other in-vehicle device, such as adjusting the rear view mirrors, seats, or using OEM navigation system: 1%

9. Moving object in vehicle, such as an insect or unrestrained pet: 1%

10. Smoking-related (smoking, lighting up, putting ashes in ashtray): 1%

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines distracted driving as a driver taking his or her eyes off the road for more than two seconds.4 If any particular task that requires multiple glances away from the roadway cumulatively takes more than 12 seconds of eyes-off-the-road time, NHTSA also considers that distracting.5 NHTSA has a very precise way of measuring eyes-off-the-road time that involves measurement of the angle of the driver's eyes with respect to straight ahead.6

There are only two things that all distracted drivers have in common. One is that they are driving. The other is that they are distracted. The best way to address the distracted driving problem is with solutions that target these common elements.

It is important that distracted driving solutions target drivers, and only drivers. A solution that also targets passengers be they in a car, bus, train, boat or some other vehicle, will meet with resistance in the marketplace because passengers will not likely accept the restrictions intended for drivers being applied to them.

Different solutions have been proposed for different distractions. While these can be very effective, narrowly targeted solutions that address specific distractions are not the optimal way to address the overall driver distraction problem. A solution that targets the food served through drive-thru windows might be appropriate for drivers who are distracted while eating but ineffective for drivers who are distracted by other passengers. A solution that targets people who text while driving might prevent a driver from texting but also prevent an abducted child from reaching out for help. Any specific narrowly targeted solution might be effective at addressing the problem it aims to address, but because it is narrowly targeted it likely leaves some of the distracted driving problem unresolved. Furthermore, some narrowly targeted solutions might create other hazards.

There are solutions aimed at addressing all forms of distracted driving. In this report these solutions are referred to as driver monitoring technology. Advanced driver monitoring systems that address distracted driving are beginning to reach the mass market.7 The technology behind these systems is similar to the technology used in popular consumer electronics products like the Microsoft Kinect for Xbox 360, the Nintendo Wii, and the Sony Playstation Move. As anyone familiar with these gaming systems knows it is possible today for machines to monitor subtle human movements and take action based on these movements.

Driver monitoring systems that address distracted driving use cameras to watch a driver's eyes and head. By constantly monitoring the eyes of the driver the monitoring system can tell where the driver is looking, and even predict the driver's state of mind.

These monitoring systems are unobtrusive and always on. The driver does not have to do anything to activate them.

Driver monitoring systems can tell if the driver's eyes are not looking at the road ahead. They can report this shift of focus to the circuitry inside the car, and if the driver's focus remains off the road ahead for more than an allowed amount of time the circuitry in the car can take action. Some actions that might be taken include sounding an alarm, shutting off a video display, muting audio, or other similar actions aimed at getting the driver to focus back on the road.

An automatic driver monitoring system is the most appropriate and most effective way to address driver distraction because it addresses all distractions – even the ones that do not have good targeted solutions like the most prevalent distraction, daydreaming. Rather than developing a plan to get people to eat safely while driving, and developing another plan to get people to smoke safely while driving, and developing another plan to get people to use their mobile phones safely while driving, a much more effective approach would be to develop one plan to help people drive safely no matter what else they are trying to do.

In this report you will find an explanation of how driver monitoring systems work. You will also find a listing of various technologies on the market that aim to help drivers avoid specific distractions. These latter technologies are tools that drivers can use to accomplish things they want to accomplish without driving distracted.

1 See http://www.distraction.gov/content/get-the-facts/facts-and-statistics.html (September 3, 2014).

2 Ibid.

3 "Forget Phones Or Fast Food, More Drivers Cause Their Own Distractions In Crashes," http://www.forbes.com/sites/jimgorzelany/2013/04/03/forget-phones-or-fast-food-more-drivers-causetheir- own-distractions-in-crashes/ (April 3, 2013).

4 "Guidelines for Reducing Visual-Manual Driver Distraction during Interactions with Integrated, In- Vehicle, Electronic Devices," Section VI (Task Acceptance Testing) (April 23, 2013).

5 Ibid.

6 Ibid.

7 For example, see "Attention Assist" feature offered by Mercedes-Benz, http://www.mbusa.com/mercedes/benz/safety (September 11, 2014).