Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is the site of a meeting of the Technology and Maintenance Council, and one facet of that meeting was a recent panel called “Cab and Controls: How to Address Distracted Driving.” As the name suggests, numerous experts were on hand to determine how best to evaluate the threat that is distracted driving.
One of the things discussed was a study from AAA that attempted to gauge the danger levels posed by various types of distracting activities. Somewhat contradictory to the findings of that research (which found talking to be risky at the wheel), a study from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute was also referenced.
Proponents of the viability of the latter argued that their study did a better job of taking into account naturalistic driving. Vehicle cabins were hooked up with cameras for upwards of a year so that drivers could get used to and forget about the systems.
The study discovered that anything that required manual and visual input alike turned out to be the most hazardous types of acts but that mere talking didn’t pose a threat. In fact, the research suggested that people who have just woken up who carry on a conversation have an easier time getting their cognitive functions restored.
An official with Swift Transportation talked about how employee policies can help eliminate distracting tendencies. He pointed out that his company has taken to not even allowing employees in an office to contact drivers in transit.