Driving Psychology, Dr. Leon James, Professor
In 2009, 5,474 people were killed on American roadways and an estimated additional 448,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes reported to have involved distracted driving (NHTSA). Of course this number could, quite easily, be much larger because those numbers are just from what has been reported officially, and those who have been the cause of an accident or crash, is not likely to readily admit that they were distracted before getting into the accident. The National Safety Council estimates more than one in four motor vehicle crashes involve cell phone use at the time of the crash (2010). Driver distractions have joined alcohol and speeding as leading factors in fatal and serious injury crashes. Almost 25 percent of all crashes in 2008 involved talking on cell phones – accounting for 1.4 million crashes and 645,000 injuries that year. (National Safety Council, 2009).
Laws and regulations about driving and cellphone use skyrocketed in 2009. Webster’s Dictionary even named “distracted driving” its Word of the Year in 2009. During this year, more than 200 state bills were introduced to ban cell phone use, which included talking and texting. President Barack Obama issued an Executive Order banning federal employees from texting while driving. Researcher are finding that sending or receiving a text takes a driver's eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, the equivalent (at a rate of 55 mph) of driving the length of an entire football field, blind (VTTI, 2009). This dangerous fact is the reason there has been increases in vehicle collisions as cellphone use is becoming more and more common.
Our goal of this research paper is to help raise awareness and promote safe driving. The paper will look at some various forms of distraction, and solutions that enable drivers to be in better control and not let the dangerous distractions interfere with their behaviors and actions on the road. It is impossible to eliminate all and every kind of distraction out there while on the road so this paper is to serve as a guide to better inform drivers of the threats that can affect the lives of themselves and everyone around them.
Distractions are an indefinite part of our lives. It is very difficult for the brain to concentrate on solely one thought. Our brain is racking through different and new files constantly. Duke University professor Cathy Davidson, told Dartmouth Now (Dartmouth’s news source) “The brain doesn’t know how to mono-task…(the brain) is constantly making neural connections…in fact, if you’re in a quiet room, with no interruptions whatsoever, typically, your brain goes crazy” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lzetjg6Q694).
The brain is functioned to multi-task and unfortunately, because of this, many drivers feel they can tack on other tasks and still be in control of their four-ton vehicle. Distracted driving is unquestionably dangerous as the National Safety Council estimates 25 percent of all crashes in 2008 involved talking on cell phones – accounting for 1.4 million crashes and 645,000 injuries that year (2009).
But are cell phones the only thing distracting us? As defined in the Overview of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Driver Distraction Program (2010), the word ‘distraction’ “is a specific type of inattention that occurs when drivers divert their attention from the driving task to focus on some other activity instead.” Drivers are distracted by a range of things, from finding that perfect song on our iPod for example, to putting on makeup or pulling our rubberneck to look at accidents in the opposite flowing lane. The brain’s internalized thoughts, talking with others– whether on the phone or to other passengers in the car, changing clothes, eating, or even reading a bumper sticker are other distractions that drivers find themselves in everyday. Distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person's attention away from the primary task of driving.
People always have some sort of “to-do” list and they want to cross off as many things as they can in as little time. So by having a mindset that driving is an automatic, mindless task, drivers will try and fit in as many “activities” off their list as possible. This explains why the woman who constantly leaves her house later than she knows she should, does not have to worry about makeup at home, because she will get it done while sitting in traffic.
Young drivers, teenagers, drive less than the other age group drivers except the oldest group of drivers, yet teenager accident rates are the highest. New drivers who have little to no experience have the highest risk at getting into car accidents and more than 20% of car accidents occurred with a teenager as one of the drivers. This is believed to be because teenagers are more likely to be involved in risky behavior such as speeding, quick lane changes and following other cars too closely. Teenagers are also more likely to be over confident in their driving skills so think that their driving habits won’t cause them to get into a possible accident. (Andreas, 2004, Google Scholar) It is also believed that if a teen is likely to commit one type of risky behavior, they’re more likely to be involved in other risky habits as well. When teenagers overestimate their driving skills, they’re more likely to think that they are capable of multitasking while driving too. A survey done by AAA and Seventeen Magazine resulted in 61% of teens who took the survey admitted to multitasking in the car while driving. Of that 61%, 50% of them said they text while driving, 40% said they speed and a total of 11% said they drink or do drugs before driving. (Carty, 2007, newspaper article) Young drivers also tend to be on cell phones more than adults and therefore, their chances of being on a cell phone while driving is higher. Young drivers are the riskiest drivers on the road especially when there are other friends in the car. The driver is constantly multitasking-changing the music, talking story, putting on makeup, eating snacks, answering cell phones and maybe being more easily influenced by their friends to show-off and go faster.
Rubbernecking is defined as to strain to watch, to stare curiously according to thefreedictionary.com referring to cars on the road staring curiously at car accidents as they drive by. Rubbernecking is probably the most frustrating reason for traffic or an accident. The solution seems so simple-just don’t do it. When there’s a car wreck on the side of the road we all feel like we are all owed our turn to stop and look only for a few seconds. There are multiple problems with this common attitude. First, all those short turns we all take to gawk at the scene adds up to many short turns, therefore, causing cars to slow down, the cars in back to slow down and eventually to all come to a halt to wait in traffic for a longer time. Second, as we pass the scene and take our turn to satisfy our curiosity, our attention is no on what’s happening in front of us while driving. Drivers may not see that the car directly in front of them is stopped and continue to roll forward while looking at the wreck resulting in a fender-bender. Then cars driving by in the lane next to you will slow down to see why there’s another car accident aside from the one in the shoulder lane. It’s a domino affect that we can all prevent if we all participate by not rubbernecking. According to freakanomics.com, the UK has already trialed a solution to this problem. They have large screens they rush to accident scenes so cars aren’t able to stop and see what is happening. The screens have been successful but they are still to be perfected. There are still many problems transporting the screens to the scene quickly and safely and there is training required to actually put the screens together in a timely fashion. Most importantly, though, they are concerned with making the screens safer to use under terrible weather conditions to make sure the screens that are suppose to alleviate traffic doesn’t cause another accident. (Morris, 2011)
Another form of distracted driving can be in the form of looking at pedestrians. By looking at pedestrians, the drivers focus and attention is placed on to the pedestrian instead of maintaining their focus and attention towards the road. An example of this can be depicted in the YouTube comedy sketch by Jenna Marbles titled, “What Boys Do in the Car” (Video 1) and also, “What Girl Do in the Car” (Video 2). Video 1 portrays a boy paying more attention to a woman jogging than the task of driving at 0:29. Also at 1:13 the boy is shown talking to a woman who is not in the same car as him. Talking to a pedestrian or another driver can be a form of distracted driving, and according to the traffic safety organization it is encouraged not to stop in the middle of the road to talk with other drivers or pedestrians. (James and Nahl, 2000, Book) Video 2 portrays a girl paying more attention to a woman jogging than the task of driving at 0.53.
According to Elmira Police Department in New York, distracted drivers are not the only people who pose a danger on the roads. Distracted pedestrians as well as distracted bicyclists can be just as big of a threat. (Zick, 2011, Newspaper) In this case, the Traffic Safety Board launched an awareness campaign with the message – “Be alert, Distraction Kills.” The goal of this campaign was
“… to decrease injuries and fatalities by raising awareness about the dangers of distraction, whether it be texting while driving, walking with headphones that drown out all other sounds, or cyclists more concerned with talking to one another than paying attention to the streets.” (Zick, 2011, Newspaper)
They hoped to achieve these goals by educating the public about pedestrians signals and they encouraged the use of pedestrian signals instead of coming down on the public and trying to enforce it.
(Video 1) What boys do in the car http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xEzJgoprATE&feature=relmfu
(Video 2) What girls do in the car
Police Presence - Speeding
Speeding is not necessarily a form of distracted driving by itself but distracted driving can be induced by the act of speeding, or more importantly being worried/ on the lookout for police officers because the driver is speeding. Dr. James noted in an interview that the interviewee stated, “I break the law every time I drive on the highway.” (James and Dahl, 2000, Book) Which is very true, every time you speed you are breaking the law. (Ahina 1, 2012, Group) According to Ahina, this holds true for him as well as Yoko Nagao, and Kalani Woodward who commented on Ahina’s post on Google groups. In one testimony the drivers eyes is spent a significant amount of time looking for cops instead of keeping their eyes on the road. (James and Dahl, 2000, Book) And that they would be a much safer driver if they did not have to worry about police officers that are cracking down on drivers that are speeding.
According to Dr. James, “road rage” is an expression that was introduced into our society in 1988 through popular media. (2000, Book) “Though there has been no agreed-upon definition, people use the phrase to refer to an extreme state of anger that often precipitates aggressive behavior, sometimes restricted to words and gestures, sometimes as assault and battery. (James and Nahl, 2000, Book) Among this expression there is a variety amount of factors that can attribute to the increase in this aggressive behavior: “… traffic congestion, feeling endangered, being insulted, frustration, time pressure, fatigue, competitiveness, and lapses in attention.” (James and Nahl, 2000, Book)
That being said, road rage is a form of aggressive driving that can be distracting to yourself and/or other drivers. Some behaviors for example, making obscene gestures will cause you to take either one or both hands off the wheel for a period of time as well as looking at the person that you are gesturing to instead of paying attention to the road. Another example could be flashing your high beams at other drivers. This can be distracting in two folds, first off the person that you are flashing your high beams to may get blinded from the brightness, and second off if you are not familiar with the car you are driving you have to take your eyes off the road in order to look for the high beam switch which is a distraction.
Ironically while I was on YouTube looking for videos about road rage, I noticed many of the videos being recorded by another driver while operating a vehicle. Thus trying to capture the behavior of road rage on film could be considered as a form of distracted driving if the operator of the camera is as well the operator of the vehicle. An example of this can be shown on YouTube video titled, “Road Rage Caught on Camera: White Trash Girl Goes Off” (Video 3) Video 3 shows a male who is operating the camera getting into a confrontation with a female who he claims is displaying road rage behavior.
However road rage is not the only form of rage out there, there is also parking lot rage, sidewalk rage, surf rage, shopping mall rage, workplace rage, keyboard rage, customer rage, just to name a few.
(Video 3) Road Rage Caught on Camera: White Trash Girl Goes Off http://youtu.be/RTx8r7pqkTU
We’ve all heard this before, but it is unsafe to drink and drive. About fifteen thousand people are said to die every year because of drug-impaired driving. Alcohol affects our ability to drive. Besides causing some serious diseases, alcohol contributes to also impairing our decision-making and reactions. It interferes with our judgment, distorts our vision and increases our irritability. (James and Nahl, 2000, Book) Needless to say, driving requires us to constantly be aware and make important decisions every second. When there’s alcohol in our system it slows down our reaction time and also makes us drowsy. So lets imagine a guy in his mid twenties who spent a night with friends at a bar and just had some beers and a few shots. He decides to leave because he’s tired. His judgment that he’s sober enough to drive is the first of many bad decisions. Living about 20 minutes away, he feels there’s a lot of open road he can speed on in between where he is and his destination. The alcohol makes him feel brave and he speeds past other cars on the freeway.
At a stop light, he starts to feel that his eyes are heavy and closes them. The light turns green and the car in back of him, honks their horn. He opens his eyes, startled, and quickly steps on the gas not seeing that there are people not quite off the cross walk yet. Would you want to be in this situation under the influence? Because the driver in this scenario is intoxicated, he might not be able to stop fast enough to avoid hurting pedestrians. It’s not worth it to drink and drive. Driving is a risk as is, and when driving under the influence, you’re risking your own life and putting other drivers and pedestrians at an even larger risk. Drunk driving shouldn’t be taken lightly. Many people lose their lives and get seriously injured in alcohol-related accidents.
Pets in the car
Pets can also be a distraction in the car while driving. A survey done by AAA revealed that 60% of dog owners admit that their pets distract them in the car. And 1 in 6 pet owners actually use restraints while their pet is in the car with them. Pets running around the car do more than just get our attention while their owners are driving, but when pets climb on to the driver’s laps, it restricts the driver’s ability to step on the pedals. In case the car needs to come to a rushed stop, it’s difficult when a pet is climbing on our legs. It is also recommended that drivers do not put their pets in the front passenger seat because it could be fatal if the air bag were to ever deploy.
Similar to the warning about putting infants in the front seat, it’s just as dangerous for our pets. For our safety, your pet’s safety and the safety of other passengers and other cars on the road, we should all consider putting restraints on our pets while they ride with us. Even the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals encourages the use of restraints for pets. Pet seat belts or pet cars seats are harmless and affordable. (Copeland, 2010, newspaper article)
Another distraction many drivers face is the GPS navigation system. GPS navigation systems are one of the most convenient inventions for the car. It lets a driver find exactly where she/he needs to go and the best way to get there. The creators of the GPS system however, probably did not think that one of their best inventions could lead to more accidents than before.
There are many types of navigational systems, for example, some have an automatic voice playback where a (usually woman’s) voice will give the driver turn by turn instructions. There are other systems that do not speak, but instead give instructions and show a picture of when to turn and when to switch lanes. Newer and more expensive systems allow drivers to connect their cell phone through Bluetooth and connect and use their mp3 players.
These GPS systems, although very handy, are a huge distraction for drivers. Instead of keeping both eyes on the road and staying focused on what is ahead, drivers now have to keep one eye on the road, and one eye on their navigational system or listening to the woman for turn-by-turn instructions, which can also be very distracting.
Besides GPS navigation systems becoming the standard in the production of vehicles, many new car makers are also putting a hands-free kind of technology in a way to make driving safer but still with the convenience of things like GPS. Ford’s Sync, GM’s MyLink and Toyota’s Entune are all new technology that is made in the car to sync applications like GPS, the driver’s phone, including voice-texting. So now, there is still more distractions to do for the driver, but because it is done all with the voice, it is safer.
Ford’s Sync technology, for example, enables any voice to change the radio station, or if connected to a music player, find any genre of music, specific artists and songs. And when a caller calls the drivers synced cell phone, a picture of the caller will show up on the 8-inch screen (www.Ford.com/technology/snyc/features). In one commercial, the Chevy Cruze, a new sedan from Chevy automakers, has a button to automatically connect the driver to his Facebook newsfeed. The driver hears that his date has written a post that it “was the best first date ever” and smiles as he drives off into the distance.
The research conducted by Ford Motor Company shows study participants spent an average of 25 seconds with their eyes off the road to select a song with a hand-held MP3 player compared with a few seconds for those choosing a song using SYNC. But even a few-seconds can make the difference. The National Traffic Highway Safety Administration conducted a study of 100 cars over a period of one year, that 80 percent of crashes and 65 percent of near-crashes involved some form of driver inattention within three seconds before the event (2006).
In his article entitled, Technology driving motorists to distraction, MSNBC columnist Bryn Nelson wrote, unlike the drug approval process governed by the Food and Drug Administration, “many car systems are sold independently of the vehicles, complicating the ability of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to monitor their safety” (2008) This makes things, on the regulatory side, difficult in terms of who is responsible.
Why we think we can multi-task
Society urges us to have the ability to multi-task especially in the work force. For most people the will have a higher salary if they are able to perform multiple task at once. Multi-task by definition is defined as the performance of multiple tasks at one time. However researchers are coming to the conclusion that the human brain does not have the ability to multi-task. (Ahina 2, 2012, Groups) Instead the human brain is meant to preform sequential task by focusing from one task to another. With that being said a more proper definition would be multi-tasking is a rapid change of focus between two or more tasks. (Girard, 2007, Journal Article)
But how does our brain do that? At the University of California, San Diego a psychology professor named Hal Pashler, discovered that if the task is practiced frequently, it becomes a “highly practiced skill,” which allows a person to perform the task easily while thinking about something else, however when the task requires decision making, then a person’s attention must switch from one task to another. (Girard, 2007, Journal Article) When a person preforms a task that is cognitively demanding such as driving, the person begins to use a cognitive function called, “executive control.” This function is associated with perception and critical thinking which can be found in the frontal cortex of the brain. Executive control has first priority over all cognitive functioning and decides which task has the upmost importance as well as what mental resources will be assigned to complete the task. “Executive control has two main activities: goal shifting (ie, do this now rather than that) and rule activation (ie, turning off the rule for one task and turning on the rule for another) that help people unconsciously switch from one task to another. “ (Girard, 2007, Journal Article) To get a better understanding of this watch YouTube video titled: The myth behind multitasking – Distracted Driving FAQ. (Video 4)
There was a study done by psychologist Jason Watson and David Strayer at the University of Utah where they discovered that out of 200 participants, 40 of them were able to operate a vehicle safely which talking on the phone. (Mirsky 2010, Journal Article) An answer to this could be provided by other researchers who suggest that younger generations are more likely preform these cognitively demanding tasks because they grew up with these advanced technologies and is used to multi-tasking, compared to an older generation. (Girard 2007, Journal Article) Even though there is a high ratio (2.5) of people than can multi-task with driving, there is a higher probability that you are not one of them. (Mirsky 2010, Journal Article)
(Video 4) The myth behind multitasking – Distracted Driving FAQ. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_Kzq2x-z7Y&feature=youtu.be
Ways we can avoid these mistakes
So how does a driver attend to distractions like the cell phone, or GPS system or an accident nearby and still be a safe driver? The single best way to accomplish this would be to not pay attention to any of those distractions in the first place. Refraining from talking on the cell phone or not looking at the pulled over vehicle and keeping your focus on the road is the absolute best way to give your attention to where it is needed the most-the road. Unfortunately, the circumstance of solely paying attention to the road is not the reality.
As humans in the society we live in today, our cell phones have become of great importance to us. The majority feels we are inseparable from our little devices of communication, especially since they have developed into more than just talking with someone else. Our cell phones can provide us with music, games, the web, navigational systems and so much more. And our natural desire, as humans to connect with others has not decreased either- if anything, social network medias have made connecting with others so easy that we are more connected than ever before.
In this day and age of connecting with people, it is extremely difficult to be separated from everyone. We are constantly in touch with one another and this constant carries through into our vehicles. Drivers are just not going to give up on talking while driving; the speed and convenience of technology has brought us into a world where it is much harder to go back to the older ways of before. And even though many states have laws against driving with hand-held devices, it seems that it may have created a more dangerous situation for everyone on the road. Now instead of simply talking on your phone while driving, one must be discreet about holding their phones. So because of laws that ban hand-held devices, drivers are now attempting and learning how to text below the wheel or dashboard, causing them to lower their heads further into their cell phone and less on the roads.
Since talking and using cell phones or any other electronic device while driving is just what drivers do, the best way to handle the situation would be to create more driver-friendly technology and make everyone more aware of the dangers of distractions. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has proposed new guidance intended to discourage vehicle manufacturers from adding “excessively distracting devices” to their vehicles (2012). The proposed Phase I distraction guidelines include recommendations to:
- Reduce complexity and task length required by the device
- Limit device operation to one hand only (leaving the other hand to remain on the steering wheel to control the vehicle)
- Limit individual off-road glances required for device operation to no more than two seconds in duration
- Limit unnecessary visual information in the driver's field of view
- Limit the amount of manual inputs required for device operation
The U.S Transportation Secretary, Ray LaHood said in the Alabama Distracted Driving Summit, that the same tactics that have curbed drunk drivers should be applied to distracted motorists. LaHood pointed out that “decades of experience with drunk driving has taught us it takes a consistent combination of education, effective enforcement, a committed judiciary, and collective efforts by local, state, and national advocates to put a dent in the problem” (Shepard, 2011). LaHood outlined other steps that he hopes will become part of the nation’s collective driving routine including that parents need to set clear ground rules for teenage drivers and enforce them (Shepard, 2011).
Raising awareness is one of the greatest ways to get a word out about any issue in hopes of generating a reaction and from there, taking action. From older awareness campaigns like breast cancer and drug abuse to newer ones like global warming and a man named Joseph Kony, awareness campaigns have always been around. And thanks to today’s technology, there are so many different outlets to help spread the word. The U.S. Department of Transportation has a YouTube channel, which answers questions sent in by subscribers, as well as a handful of short video clips entitled Faces of Distracted Driving. These short clips interview family and friends of someone who has died as the result of either someone else using a cell phone or handheld device or they themselves using the device.
(See example here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VDKOiMSkLxY&feature=relmfu)
By raising awareness along with the help of safer technology, drivers have the right tools to make better decisions about staying focused on the roadways. This can help drivers at giving more attention to what is in front of them, rather than the iPod that is sitting below in the cup holder.
A report from the National Safety Council stated that in 2010, 28 percent of traffic accidents are caused by people talking on cell phones or sending text messages. Acknowledging that distractions are inevitable, we need to learn to be safer drivers and how to react properly to distractions. To summarize, distracted driving is anything that takes a person’s attention away from the safe operation of their vehicle.
This paper serves as an informative guide to assist everyone in the knowledge of the different kinds of distractions drivers face, as well as suggestions that are making it better for drivers and their distractions. It has covered the plethora of various ways and uses of multi-tasking in the car. This included young drivers, rubbernecking, pedestrians, police presence, road rage, drunk driving, pets in the car, as well as other media devices such as GPS systems. This paper also looked at why we, as drivers, think we are able to multi-task and most importantly, ways these mistakes.
One of the best and important things that can be done is creating and raising awareness of distractions on the road and how dangerous they are. Unfortunately, even creating laws cannot stop people from breaking them. What it comes down to is that it is in the drivers hands to be responsible about his or her driving methods. In hopes of raising awareness, drivers will be more cautious and thereby, reducing the 28 percent of accidents, or at least 1.6million accidents(NSC, 2010).
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Problems Associated With Distracted Drivers and Preventive Measures Against Them
Driving Psychology, Dr. Leon James, Professor
Word Count: 4957
Distracted driving is any activity that can divert an individuals attention away from their driving. There are three aspects of distracted driving: visual, cognitive, and manual distractions. Most distracted driving practices are a combination derived from all three aspects. All forms of distracted driving are dangerous. They endanger other vehicles, passengers, bystanders, and even themselves. Common forms are text messaging, talking on the phone, eating, adjusting the radio, and just anything that takes your eyes off the road or hands off the steering wheel. By far the worst form of distracted driving is text messaging, since it demands such high cognitive, manual, and visual attention from the driver (NHTSA, 2012). When we are distracted while driving, we are taking advantage of our privilege to drive and are putting lives in danger. The government is making strides against distracted driving, but we believe that the true way is through preventive education. Our hope is to shed some light on the serious issue of distracted driving using various google and online sources. We hope to educate everyone about the dangers behind a seemingly harmless activity and how to avoid problems that we seem to oversee because we consider it as second nature.
Drivers Distracted More by Cell Phones than Passengers
According to Frank Drews, David Strayer and Monisha Pasupathi, psychologists at the University of Utah states that talking on a cellular phone creates more distraction than conversing with a passenger. Using sophisticated driving simulators, research has found that talking on a cell phone while driving has led the drivers to drift into other lanes and miss multiple exists more frequently than drivers conversing with passengers. However, although the passenger might be considered a distraction, the passenger instead serves as a second set of eyes which may help the driver navigate or be more aware for dangerous situations to avoiding an accident, etc.
Driving with a hands free cell phone also brings just as much distraction compared to a handheld because it isn’t the method but the conversation which is the distraction. Young adults reaction time decreases to that of a senior citizen and drivers talking on their cellular phones are impaired similar to a driver with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 which is illegal in most states.
Psychologist David Strayer also adds, "The difference between a cell phone conversation and passenger conversation is because the passenger is in the vehicle and knows what the traffic conditions are like, and they help the driver by reminding them of exit awareness, road debris or pointing out other hazards.” Even when drivers used a hands free cell phone, driving performance was significantly compromised. According to the researcher, "Cell phone and passenger conversation differ on having an impact on their driving performance; these differences are apparent at the operational, tactical, and strategic levels of performance.”
The Advantage of Using a Bluetooth
The Bluetooth. Its invention is very convenience and has increased the level of safety while communicating through the wireless use of a cell phone. The device allows us to contact others by making or receiving phone calls without the use of using our hands to hold the phone or the congestion of wires or cables that block, interfere, disrupts or distracts our ability to drive correctly and safely. The fact that you can pick up calls without the motion of turning your head or pressing multiple buttons, with the touch of one button or voice command if enabled, that is all that’s required to answering your phone. Also it’s more efficient, increases time management, easier to manage and it will not get unplugged. For your satisfaction, it also comes in many colors, sizes and fits securely in your ear like an earphone or headset. Its compatible and depending on the model you decide to purchase, different sound qualities and internal components are enhanced and some will last longer between charges than others. Also, when setting up your Bluetooth, make sure that phone setting are adjusted correctly and that the Bluetooth is synced to your phone before you drive. That will keep you from being distracted and will prevent you from getting into an accident.
Trends in Fatalities From Distracted Driving in the United States, 1999 to 2008
According to the Fatality Analysis Reporting Systems (FARS), data on all road fatalities that occurred on public roads in the United States from 1999 to 2008 are recorded. Although declining from 1999 to 2005, fatalities from distracted driving increased 28% after 2005, rising from 4572 fatalities and texting volumes. A prediction was made based on multivariate analyses that increasing texting volume will result in more than 16,000 additional road fatalities from 2001 to 2007. Also, crashes increasingly involved male drivers driving alone in collisions with roadside obstructions in urban areas. Using a cell phone while driving has increasingly become one of the biggest factors of distracted driving and although texting bans are enforced in certain states, drivers still use their phones while driving.
The dangers of distracted driving is a huge concern and was brought up by a 2010 national summit including safety experts, industry leaders, and several US senators to address the possibility of regulatory solutions. A growing number of communities are either contemplating or implementing bans on cell phone usage while driving, however, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the American Automobile Association announced their support for bans on the use of handheld devices while driving.
In 2008, approximately 1 in 6 fatal vehicle collisions resulted from a driver being distracted while driving. A study also suggested that drivers who text are 23 times more likely to crash. The FARS database contains detailed demographic and crash information on every accident that occurs on a public road in the United States. Information is collected from a variety of sources, including police reports, state registration files, state licensing files, vital statistics, death certificates, hospital medical records, and emergency medical or coroner reports. Inattentive or careless behavior included talking, eating, reading, using cell phones, text messaging, and using global positioning systems or other devices. A total of 51,857 fatalities caused by driver distraction occurred from 1999 to 2008.
Reducing Distracted Driving: Regulation and Education to Avert Traffic Injuries and Fatalities
With increasing convenience of cell phone usage and varieties of technology installed in the car while driving, drivers are more likely than ever to cause an accident. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that 5870 persons died (16% of all fatalities) and an estimated 515,000 individuals were injured in police-reported crashes involving driver distraction in 2009. Using naturalistic driving data, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration found that texting while driving had the highest odds ratio of a serious vehicular crash relative to 16 other activities that draw a driver’s attention from the highway. When dialing a cell phone, drivers of light vehicles were 2.8 times more likely than non-distracted drivers to have a crash or near crash. Young drivers who text spend up to 400% more time with their eyes off the road than drivers who do not text. A meta-analysis of 125 studies showed that cell phone conversations while driving were associated with impaired reaction time and showed no differences in risk between hands-free or handheld phones.
Since 2007, 34 states have enacted distracted driving legislation. Many cities also have passed ordinances restricting the use of electronic devices while driving, ranging in size from small towns (Walton Hills, Ohio) to large cities (Chicago, Illinois). The US Department of Transportation issued regulatory guidance in January 2010 prohibiting text messaging by commercial motor vehicle drivers. This was complimented by President Obama’s issuance of an executive order in 2009, directing federal agencies to proscribe text messaging by federal employees while driving on official government business.
Although technology has its benefits, such as using a global positioning device rather than relying on printed maps, many individuals insist on using them while driving, which is what causes problems. Research demonstrates that handheld phones have significantly reduced its usage while driving, many drivers instead switched to hands-free devices, which are equally dangerous.
Guidelines for our Roads
Information in this book doesn’t directly involve distracted driving instances. It’s main focus was to show some guidelines on how to make roads safer, assuming individuals such as distracted drivers are making constant driving errors. It’s interesting that book refers to a tired driver separately from a distracted driver. We can definitely make a claim that both terms should somewhat be used in ordinance with each other. Since, being tired is a compromised state and driving in a compromised state is in essence a form of distracted driving. Cognitively speaking we are mentally hindered when we are tired of drowsy.
To address the issue of distracted drivers the book mentions ways to prevent lane departures when drivers get careless. It’s more of a protocol system to keep us more accountable of distracted drivers and their unfavorable driving behavior. An example is rumble guards in the centerlines and edgelines of a road. Thus, warning drivers if they are straying away from their own lane with the alert of their tires vibration.
Implementing a safer roadway system to be ready for instances of bad driving behavior is clearly important. We are all aware of what can be the result of distracted driving. Preparing the roadway system to be more, in a sense defensive to these driving behavior is a great step to begin countering the problem. Knowing distracted drivers are out there, we should take all the precautions necessary on the road and always remain buckled up first and for most.
Teens Behind the Wheel
This books targets distracted driving behaviors that teens are normally engaged in. One can argue these can be generally applicable to all those on the road, but the book was catered towards teens. It begins by stating the fact that it only takes 3 seconds or less of dis-trac-tion to cause an accident. According to the text teen drivers are one of the worst perpetrators of cell phone use in the car. Just talking on the phone increases the chance for an accident by 7 folds, and texting is even worse increasing the likely hood by 23 times.
There are 2 explanations given as to why teens use their cellphones so much, even while driving. The first explanation is related to being popular and part of the “now” generation. Access and cellphone use are just second nature that its use revolves around our everyday hourly routines. We consider it a direct connection to our friends, whenever it rings (just as if they were speaking to you directly). The other explanation is a biological explanation. When we hear our phone ring/vibrate our brains release a chemical known as dopamine. This chemical is associated with pleasure. For an avid cell phone user answering a call or looking at a message is a form of pleasure. Just from these two explanations we can see why cell phone use is done even while driving.
There are states who have made it illegal for 16 and 17 year olds to use the cell phone while driving. Some states, such as Hawaii have even made it completely illegal to operate a cellphone for anyone while driving. The times have really changed. In the past you never left the house without your keys or wallet, now you need to add a cellphone to that list.
Then there is a little section on what goes on as we are driving. According to the author we make roughly about 200 driving decisions every mile. So, in 10 miles alone we have made 2000 driving decisions. Distracted driving can come in many forms cognitive, visual, and manual. The author suggests that we make our driving decisions based on what we see or hear. What we see from our eyes is 90% and what we hear is 10% of what gets processed in our brain. Continuing on our cell phone example, when using a cell phone while driving, this causes the ratios of what we actually see go down to 57% and an increase to 43% for hearing. That’s a substantial drop in our driving vision and an increase in our reliance on hearing. So jut using a cellphone can be considered a form of visual, cognitive, and manual driving distraction.
With cell phone use, also comes distracting passengers, looking outside the car (at girls, billboards, etc.), radio use, food, pets, and etc. The author made it a point to address these issues from the standpoint that teens are the major perpetrators of distracted driving. This is definitely true, but a lot of what was stated is easily generalizable to the general population of drivers. However, the author has made his point that perhaps one of the worst distracted drivers on the road are teens.
Teen Driver's Friends Can be Dangerous Distraction
This news articles says that teen driver friends can be a very high distraction while conversing with a driver while driving. If you think about it, teens who usually think of themselves as thrill seekers or who disobey and violate licensing laws are usually passengers to other teen drivers. Studies have also shown a higher accident rate due to other teen passengers because of distraction or risky driving behaviors.
According to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, teen passengers are know to have increased a teen drivers crash risk but it has never been understood why or how these teen passengers sparingly increase crash risk. Allison Curry, director of epidemiology at the Center for Injury Research and Prevention stated in a hospital news release that these studies have shown that driving with multiple teenage passengers lead to distractions because the environment contributes to crashes. The driver will be likely to not pay attention or be bombarded by pressure to display risky driving behaviors such as speeding, tailgating or weaving.
In these studies carried out by Allison Curry, while surveying some teen drivers, similar characteristics to those risky driving behaviors mentioned were displayed. These teen drivers were considered to be thrill seekers and grew up with no mentorship from their parents to guide them with rules and the overall risk of driving or even know of their whereabouts. However, the good news to this was that these teens were reported to have strong perception of the risks of driving, low frequencies of driving with multiple passengers and strong beliefs that their parents monitored their behavior and set rule.
In the end, it stated that male drivers with passengers were more likely to perform an illegal maneuver or drive aggressively compared to females. Also, most teens do take driving seriously and most accidents involving a teen is caused due to a distraction by their passenger just before the crash. It is more likely for a teen to get distracted and get into an accident with a passenger than while driving alone.
Distracted Driving Involves More than Texting
When someone hears the words "distracted driving," one might think of texting while on the road, but that's not the only thing that can grab someones attention while behind the wheel.
There are many reason for distracted driving other than texting. If you think about it, any means or actions that take our eyes off the road or our hands of the steering wheel, puts us a a position to be practicing bad safety habits and dangerous driving that can lead to life or death situations.
According to this news article, there's a reason modern vehicles show warnings on their navigation displays, telling drivers not to use the software while the car is in motion. Those are indicators telling us common sense things that we should or should not do. Something so simple like changing the radio can lead to an accident and other distraction examples are like presetting radio stations and taking CDs out of covers. Also, even eating while going down the road, holding a shake in one hand while driving or putting an address into your GPS device are all dangerous risk factors to distracting you which can lead you to crashes.
Its stated that for a four or five-second distraction, you're gonna travel the length of a football field. That is crazy to think about because that distance traveled is roughly a hundred yards and many potential risk factors or dangers can happen because of distracting yourself. Some people may have friends or family members to call or text them while driving to keep them from falling asleep especially those with hands-free devices such as bluetooth. Although it might seem to be the safest and smartest thing to do at the time, if you think it is safe, you are still very wrong.
A study from the University of Utah says using a cellphone in any way while driving delays a drivers reaction equivalent to someone who is drunk so it would be safe to just pull over and then continue to other tasks like calling someone to pick you up or rest until you consider it then to be safe for you to drive with no distractions. Remember anything regardless of a device, passenger or whatever, there are many dis-tractors not just texting. If your eyes are off the road, you are putting yourself in danger.
Strives against electronic device related distractions are on the forefront in our government legislature. Car companies are being sighted for creating too much “luxuries” in our new and upcoming vehicles. Phase 1 of a three phase plan by the U.S. Department of transportation are proposing a specific guideline for automakers to follow, when creating in-vehicle electronic devices. The guidelines are a being imposed to decrease the number of distracting and non driving related innovations that car companies are placing in our vehicles.
The government clearly knows that distracted driving is a cause for concern. In fact, it’s on every one's mind. Our new trucks, sedans, SUVs, and cars in general. are overloaded with new fancy technology. Voice command GPS systems, iPod integration, LCD screens, and etc. all requiring more and more of our driving attention. It’s getting to a point where safety is clearly an issue. This is a result of trying to meet the demands and business of the American population. Constantly coming up with innovations, while pushing the envelope to what we can expect in our everyday vehicles.
President Obama recently included for his 2013 budget request a 330 million dollar budget directed toward distracted driving programs. A statement from the department of transportation claims to regulate the in car electronic devices that are: "not directly relevant to safely operating the vehicle, or cause undue distraction by engaging the driver's eyes or hands for more than a very limited duration while driving." (Korzeniewski, 2012). The wish is for car companies to limit device operations to the use of only one-hand, limit unnecessary distractions to drivers field of vision, and lower difficulty in handling such devices.
There are electronic innovations that are to remain untouched by this proposal. Those being related to electronic warning systems such as lane alerts and other designed to warn drivers of dangers. This issue is a current ongoing problem. The department of transportation is making these proposal right now. Only time will tell whether these guidelines are of any consequence or benefit for the distracted driver issue.
The Life you Save May Be Your Own
This blog addresses the importance of keeping your eyes on the road! It begins by stating that the your vehicle is the second most expensive investment(s) we make, only after our homes. This investment takes us to work, to places we want to go, adventures, and so much more. In a sense it provides each and everyone of us a sense of freedom. To protect this investment and more importantly our lives we need to pay attention.
The fact that humans beings are behind the wheel means that accidents are inevitable. Regardless of engineers advancing our roadway or cars, the fact is humans make mistakes, but why increase that risk. It’s really a simple to pay attention, but because of distractions that take our eyes and minds of the road, it becomes a bit harder. In a perfect world we would keep our eyes on the road, our attentions on the road, and our hands on the wheel. This would at least prevent increased risk of driving accidents from being distracted.
Clearly the on of the most popular, dangerous, and most repeated form of distracted driving is cell phone use. Taking a call is already terrible, but compared to texting or web browsing while driving, its minimal. In a texting scenario from Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, while texting your eyes are off the road for 4.6 seconds out of 6 seconds. In 4.6 seconds at 55 mph our cars travel the distance of a football field. That is to say we just travelled a length of a football field with our eyes closed.
Hopefully we can all agree that texting, web browsing, playing games, and etc.on a cellphone, while driving should be illegal. In fact anything that can take our eyes of the road should be avoided for safety reasons. We all know that most individuals will never turn off their cellphones before entering the car. This is just a fact. What really should be avoided at all costs is texting and if we do need to use a cellphone, we should use a real hands free system complete with cell phone mount that does not cause you to look away from the road to see who is calling. This does not excuse other forms of distracted driving, since paying attention if critical to “saving lives” on the road.
Distracted Driving - National Safety Month
This google group talked about the dangers of distractions while driving. We are all guilty of trying to find a radio station or selections on your music player while driving, fishing around in the glove compartment, combing your hair, putting on make up, drinking beverages or eating, reading a map, and dialing a number on a cell phone. These are only few of the many things we are guilty of doing while driving. This group emphasizes the fact that driving needs our full focus at all times and 100% of our attention.
In order for drivers to be able to practice defensive driving, which means to anticipate other drivers’ actions, it is impossible to be doing other tasks in the car other than driving. This group also recommends pulling over and making a complete stop if there is something else that needs the driver’s immediate attention.
Driving instructors estimate that a driver makes 200 decisions for every mile of driving. If drivers take their eyes off the road for three to four seconds going 55 mph, the car actually travels the length of a football field. If drivers are tired or other factors such as weather and traffic conditions, this adds onto the stress driving already cause.
Some solutions to avoid distracted driving include putting reading materials that may tempt drivers to read while driving, in the trunk where they cannot reach, make a pit-stop to rest eyes if fatigue is causing a distraction, eat or drink before and after, and always get ready early or on-time to avoid a rushed commute to a destination. Drivers must always concentrate on one task at hand only, which is to drive.
Open Letter to Ray LaHood re Distracted Driving Summit
This google group wrote a letter to the secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation regarding distracted driving and its harmful effects that it has on the road. Discretionary distractions were defined as all activities in which a motorist might elect to engage that are known or might reasonably be expected to impair or detract from their ability to drive safely, including but not limited to cell phone conversations or texting, grooming or applying cosmetics, and eating behind the wheel. The slogan, “Pay Attention or Pay the Price” must be strongly enforced in order for all of our roads to be considered safe for everybody to drive in.
They don’t recommend legally banning distractions, such as using the cell phone while driving because it would only penalize a certain demographic, like teens who are constantly on their phones texting. They are only “feel good” half-measures, which are very difficult to enforce and very easy to ignore. However, for drivers to be involved in an accident and at the moment of impact, we must consider what they were doing at that exact point. Drivers can be talking on a cell phone, eating a plate lunch or painting their nails while they caused the caused the accident. For those cases, severe penalties should be given to these drivers and this will be very difficult to ignore.
Distracted driving is just as dangerous. if not more, than driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Since driving while distracted and driving while impaired are both discretionary activities with equivalent social costs, they should carry equivalent legal penalties. Although severe DUI/DWI penalties have not completely eliminated drunk driving, according to MADD.org, since 1980 alcohol-related traffic fatalities have decreased nearly 50 percent. This is largely due to the deterrent effect of significantly increasing the penalties associated with causing an accident while drunk driving, coupled with PSAs that raises fear and awareness. Creating a similar campaign against distracted driving may create similar results.
Distracted Driving: No Texting
This was accessed from the uh library e-resources. The purpose is to address how companies should address cell phone use while driving, specifically text messaging. It really cannot be stressed enough how dangerous text messaging is, while driving. The suggestions compare the act of cell phone use, while driving to driving intoxicated and even correlated that more texting leads to more crashes.
It informs business owners and managers that they should be aware of the threat of using a cellphone as their employees drive. Specially being on the clock, they should not be using their phone because of the increase in the risk of a traffic accident. The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) joined forces with the Transportation Department and other organizations to help put an end to texting, while driving.
The article mentions that safety at work is not an accident. There are strict guidelines and regulations to ensure a safe work environment. With regards to companies with drivers it is critical that text messaging not be tolerated what so ever. It even recommends that employers should implement for drivers text-free zones, and create environments that they do not require them to use their phones all together.
The Occupational Safety and Health Act is determined to put an end to distracted driving, especially text messaging. For further information on distracted driving it is highly recommended that you visit the OSHA web page or the NHTSA distracted driving website. Business owners or managers need to put a stop to their driver’s text messaging habits, at least on the job.
Spaghetti-Eating Driver Gets Ban and Prison Sentence.
This article from the e-resource database highlights eating as a form of distracted driving. There are a lot of literature on not using cellphones, but a form of distracted driving that is not always addressed is eating while driving. This can be very dangerous as well because it takes away cognitive, manual, and visual attention. This article highlights a Dutch truck driver who was eating a plate of spaghetti as he was driving a 40 tonne-attic using only his knees to drive.
The man was put in jail for eight weeks and had gotten his license taken away for 12 months. He was unaware that he was being filmed by a helicopter swerving past the dividing white road lines. The plate on the left hand, fork in the other, using only the knees to drive he was caught on film. His bad driving was brought to the attention of the police, after other drivers had reported his erratic driving.
He pleaded guilty to driving using only his knees and after being questioned whether he though what he was doing was dangerous, he replied with a “yes”. He did say that he only drove with his knees during straight roads, where no other cars were present. Regardless, he has been terminated by his employer after working 12 years as a truck driver.
This shows that eating while driving is a terrible driving decision. I myself and a few group members are known perpetrators of this type of distracted driving in the past. After what we’ve learned and now know about the possible consequences legally and even fatally, we will always think twice about taking that bite of food as we drive. Who knows? We might be filmed by a helicopter cop, just like this man!
Let’s See Some Statistics:
With this compilation of information on distracted driving, we hope to educate the past, present and future generations about the dangers of distracted driving. We must always remember that we are endangering not only ourselves, but all the other drivers on the road as well. If you must talk on the phone while driving, pull over and concentrate on one task on hand at once. If you feel fatigued and have a difficult time focusing on driving alone, take a pit stop and rest your eyes. Although we are in a society where we are so adapted to multi-tasking, we must always remember to never drive distracted. The five minutes you think you save by combing your hair in the car, may just sum up to ending your life forever.
Arnold, B. (2009, Aug 23). Open letter to Ray LaHood re distracted driving summit. Retrieved from http://groups.google.com.eres.library.manoa.hawaii.edu/group/motorcycle-kit-info-assembly/browse_thread/thread/a6464a8f9bcd841d/faa92253839d1a58?hl=en&q=distracted+driving
Brian. (2011, Dec 13). The stick to driving...the life you save may be your own! Retrieved from http://sticktodriving.com/?p=54
Council, F. (2008). Guidance for implementation of the AASHTO strategic highway safety plan. Retrieved from http://books.google.com/books?id=MhbdhHxELkoC&pg=PA69&dq=distracted+driving&hl=en&sa=X&ei=lyVCT_OGA-aaiALE4fWMAQ&ved=0CFIQ6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q=distracted%20driving&f=false
Drews, F. (2008, Dec 1). Drivers distracted more by cell phones than by passengers. Retrieved from http://unews.utah.edu/old/p/112608-2.html#Media_Contacts
Eby, M. (2009, June 22). Distracted driving - national safety month. Retrieved from http://groups.google.com.eres.library.manoa.hawaii.edu/group/pwd-access/browse_thread/thread/aaede7753f2ca0d/8a8d7431b75f600f?hl=en&q=distracted+driving
Gostin, L., Jacobson, P. (2010). Reducing distracted driving: regulation and education to avert traffic injuries and fatalities. Retrieved from http://scholarship.law.georgetown.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1379&context=facpub&sei-redir=1&referer=http%3A%2F%2Fscholar.google.com.eres.library.manoa.hawaii.edu%2Fscholar%3Fq%3Ddistracted%2Bdriving%26hl%3Den%26btnG%3DSearch%26as_sdt%3D1%252C5%26as_sdtp%3Don#search=%22distracted%20driving%22
Korzeniewski, J. (2012, Feb 16). DOT proposes distracted driving guidelines for automakers. Retrieved from http://www.autoblog.com/2012/02/16/dot-proposes-distracted-driving-guidelines-for-automakers/#continued
LeMaster, C. (2005, Feb). Distracted driving involves more than texting. Retrieved from http://unews.utah.edu/old/p/112608-2.html#Media_Contacts
NHTSA. (2012). What is distracted driving? Retrieved from http://www.distraction.gov/content/get-the-facts/facts-and-statistics.html
Preidt, R. (2012, Jan 13). Teen driver’s friends can be dangerous distraction, studies find. Retrieved from http://unews.utah.edu/old/p/112608-2.html#Media_Contacts
Ride Lust. (2010, Apr 29). Food driving. Retrieved from http://www.ridelust.com/a-new-threat-from-toyota-pythons/2009-07-30_eating_driving_01/
Simon, L. (2010). Teen behind the wheel. Retrieved from http://books.google.com/books?id=fmZT-eNgUkAC&pg=PA27&dq=distracted+drivers&hl=en&sa=X&ei=ampDT-6IJ4SqiQL_IbyLAQ&ved=0CF8Q6AEwBg#v=onepage&q=distracted%20drivers&f=false
Stimpson, J., Wilson, F. (2010, Nov). Trends in fatalities from distracted driving in the United States, 1999 to 2008. Retrieved from http://zu7lq2cc9q.scholar.serialssolutions.com/?sid=google&auinit=FA&aulast=Wilson&atitle=Trends+in+fatalities+from+distracted+driving+in+the+United+States,+1999+to+2008&id=doi:10.2105/AJPH.2009.187179&title=American+journal+of+public+health+(1971)&volume=100&issue=11&date=2010&spage=2213&issn=0090-0036
Swimmer Insurance Agency. (2012, Feb 19). North Carolina liability insurance: know the risks of distracted driving. Retrieved from http://www.swimmerinsurance.com/about-us/our-blog/North_Carolina_Liability_Insurance_Know_the_Risks_of_Distracted_Driving
Wardell, A. (2012). The advantages of using a bluetooth while driving. Retrieved from http://unews.utah.edu/old/p/112608-2.html#Media_Contacts
The Answer to our Money Worries Regarding Fuel Economy
Fernandez, Mae Ann
University Of Hawaii, Psychology 409a
Driving has become a part of many people’s lives around the world. This task of driving has integrated into many people’s daily routines. Commuting back and forth to school or work every day. Every day means the need to fuel their vehicle very frequently. However, in this present day economy, driving is becoming a harder task to deal with because of gas prices and other car expenses. Not, to mention the increase in traffic problems, extending the time spent on the road and burning more fuel and even hurting the environment. Now, imagine a way to save your fuel consumptions and perhaps make an impact on the environment by simply adjusting the way you drive.
Hypermiling is a new concept to a lot of people. Others agree that with the way things are going in this fuel economy, hypermiling will become a part of everyone’s vocabulary. Hypermiling is defined as
the practice of making adjustments to a vehicle or using driving
techniques that will maximize the vehicle’s fuel economy.” (Oxford Dictionary)
basically it means that learning a few simple techniques or making adjustments to a person’s vehicle could reduce fuel consumption. A person who partakes in these hypermiling techniques are known as hypermiliers. The word hypermiling it self is said to have originated all the way back to hybrid vehicle clubs. These clubs would use this term to compare each others fuel efficiency of their hybrid vehicle’s engines. The term itself was coined by a man called Wayne Gerdes ‘the father of hyermiling,’ and also the title holder of ‘World’s most fuel efficient driver.’ ( Mark, 2010)
But why hypermiling and is it effective? One benefit of hypermiling is with gas prices on the rise, people realizing that they need a new useful way to save money. Last year the national average for gas based on AAA’s data ‘Regular’ was at $3.556, ‘Mid’ at $3.695, ‘Premium’ $3.826, ‘Diesel’ $3.930, and ‘85’ at $3.00 a gallon. Now the current average is ‘Regular’ was at $3.811, ‘Mid’ at $3.956, ‘Premium’ $4.087, ‘Diesel’ $4.117, and ‘85’ at $3.295 a gallon. (AAA, 2012) It may not sound a lot but a lot of people can not afford gas at that price, per gallon. Not to mention a steady increase in that price. That is where hypermiling comes into effect. One of the main objectives for a hypermiler is to reduce fuel usage by doing different hypermiling different techniques. With less gas usage means less fuel to purchase, cutting fuel consumption cost.
Another benefit to hypermiling is the green alternative to it. Vehicles are a major source of pollution and greenhouse gas. Even the smallest adjustments to the way people drive will help in this growing global warming and climate changing problems. To understand the effectiveness of hypermiling, one must know the problems first. Less fuel that is needed means less energy burned and less pollution in the air. Energy is not infinite. Eventually our conventional sources of energy will run out. The United States itself is highly dependent on foreign energy resources. OPEC, or Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries control the production and export of gas to the United Sates. Several times they have drastically changed the prices causing havoc at gas stations all over the United States. (Gallman, Philip, 2011) To avoid this a long range energy plan is needed. Creating new vehicles that are not dependent on these conventional energy sources and can run on pollution friendly energy is one aspect to a long range energy plan. the other is changing the way people drive. that is where hypermiling comes into effect. One person may not be very affective towards this green movement. However, if majority of the population if not all of the population join in on this movement, the collective results over a long period of time will definitely make an adjustment.
Not only are the drivers switching to this idea of hypermiling, car companies are switching as well. According to a Fox News many more car companies are making Hybrid cars because of its new and higher demand for them in comparison to four years ago. The results of increased gas prices and emphasis on fuel economies have created new demands for fuel efficient cars. The only catch are that these cars are a bit more pricey in comparison to their gas guzzler competition. According to Fox News
“At today's gas prices, for example, it would take about 7.3 years to make up the price difference between a 2012 Toyota Camry hybrid and its gasoline-powered equivalent,” ("What's the best," 2012)
If you chose to go this route and buy the fuel efficient car, it will take about seven years to get your money’s worth. If this wait is too long, there are the alternatives of hypermiling. Simple changing the way you drive is a good way to start on your journey to becoming a hypermilier.
Finally why hypermiling? Hypermiling is actually not that difficult to do. It is simple really. In the book called Seductive interaction design: Creating playful, fun, and effective user experiences from a mother’s point of view found a way to make hypermiling a game between herself and her son when she first tried hypermiling. Bsically she wanted to see if she and her son could reach the advertised Miles Per Gallon her vehicle could obtain. After reaching that goal she and her son created an even smaller goal to reach. Simply changing her driving such as, slower starts. Eventually this became thehypermiling game. She simply writes
“the point? Anytime you attach a measure to something, you’ve laid the groundwork for people to create all kinds of games, good and bad” (Anderson, 2011)
On her point good because of the positive outcome of saving gas and lowering gas money. Not to mention some fun in driving.
A CNN.com article gives a fantastic explanation of some of the basic concepts behind hypermiling. According to the article, one can get 35% better fuel mileage just by just changing driving foot tendencies. They noticed that going on cruise control on the highway can have a noticeable effective on your fuel economy. According to Edmunds.com's test using a Land Rover LR3 and a Ford Mustang, the Land Rover got almost 14 percent better mileage using cruise control set at 70 miles per hour rather than cruising at driver-controlled speeds between 65 and 75 miles per hour. The Mustang got 4.5 percent better mileage. (Edmonds.com)
Going onto cruise control can cut out unneeded changes in speed which eats up gas. It can also prevent this concept of one being a “speed creep.” which is a drivers tendency to gradually speed up as they spend more time on the road.
If one wants to save on their fuel mileage, one needs to seriously lay off the pedals when driving around town. Edmonds.com tests found that accelerating slower when l leaving green lights and stopping slower at red lights cut fuel consumption by 35.4% for the Land Rover and 27.1% for the Mustang. Slamming down on the gas pedal pushes more fuel into the engine while it also keeps the engine running faster. You can also save a lot of gas by just lifting your foot off the accelerator as soon as possible when approaching a yellow or red light or a stop sign. For one thing, letting up on the gas sooner gives your car more time to coast.
A site just dedicated to hypermiling (hypermiling.com) has a number of steps of what one can do to maximize their fuel economy as much as possible. The first step toward saving gas and increasing mpg is to always know your gas mileage after each visit to the gas pump. According to a website (fueleconomy.gov) this goal can be accomplished by recording your gas mileage; to do this all one needs to do is 1) fill their gas tank up completely and record their odometer reading, 2) then when it’s time to fuel up again, fill the tank completely again and take note of the number of gallons that it took to fill up your tank and the vehicle's new odometer reading. Once two odometer readings are taken, your MPG can be calculated, 3) find the different between the previous odometer reading and the new one, 4) then divide that difference by the number of gallons it took you to fill up the car, and that should be a pretty accurate way to measure to MPG.
The second step: do you drive aggressively but not know it? The second step to this is taking note of and becoming of aware of the thoughts that are going on in your head while you drive. This would include your driving etiquette, your thoughts about other drivers, how you drive when you’re in a rush, how often you’re in a rush, what do you do when drivers tailgate and many other things. The main point of becoming aware of your thoughts is that, the goal is to also make sure that you’re being careful and taking note of the buffer space between you and other drivers around you. Also ask yourself this when you are not paying attention to other drivers, does it cause you to use your brakes more than you normally would? For the general population, this answer would be yes. The problem with this is that because of this inattentiveness drivers brake between 10-25% more time than they need to. If drivers leave a big enough buffer between them and the car in front (generally at least 2 seconds or so more) there would be more time to coast before putting on the brakes. And if you see a red light way up ahead, why bother to keep your foot on the gas and waste even more gas? When you hit the brakes, you are turning gasoline into heat instead of using the motion that you’re already in by coasting through the space buffer between you and that car ahead, or that red light ahead.
The third step is asking yourself two questions: 1) How long are you sitting still at red lights? and 2), How many miles to the gallon are you getting when you’re sitting at a red light? If you haven’t guessed it already, when one is stopped at a red light, at a complete stop or stuck in a stand still in traffic, you are getting 0 miles to the gallon. So one of the things you can do to hypermile effectively is to try to minimize the the amount of time that your car is at a complete stop (because you are not getting any miles to the gallon). One way to do this is to let your foot off the gas right when you see a red light coming up. Besides, coasting towards red lights, it’s also important to think ahead about other situations where you might need to make a full stop at, such as seeing stop signs or if you see a ‘stale’ green light, which is a green light that has been green for a while and will probably change to yellow soon. The main point to take away from this is to try to minimize the amount of time you spend fully stopped with your engine idling. The second that you see brake lights in front of you or a red light coming up, take your foot off of the accelerator pedal, or hit the cancel button on your cruise control, and stop burning the gas that you know you'll be using up at zero mpg while you are stopped.
The fourth step is to try to keep yourself moving in traffic congestion. Even though this seems almost impossible a man named William J. Beaty found out some very important things about what happens to your gas while stuck in traffic congestion. Beaty found that that the gasoline that is being wasted in traffic congestion, when thought about from a nation wide standpoint causes a massive demand for fossil fuels. He also found out that without traffic jams, we’d all be moving smoothly in our cars with less starts and stops, which is equivalent to less acceleration (which means more gas) and less braking (which wastes the motion that we’re already in).
The fifth step is to slowly accelerate after stops. The reason for this because you use the most amount of gas when you accelerate. For example, to get to a certain speed in 3 seconds, it takes more acceleration than it would to reach that same speed in 4 seconds. Some ways that you can use this information to your advantage by means of when you start moving after stop at a red light or a stop sign, also if you’re driving a automatic car, try wait an extra second between when you release the brake pedal and when you hit the gas pedal. An automatic transmission car will start to move slowly forward by itself after you release the brake. You can use this to your advantage, as a form of starting out slowly from a stop instead of jamming it out of a complete stop, even if you only do it for a second. Then once your car is in motion, however slowly it may be going, you can start accelerating. The reason why this helps your fuel economy in the long run is because it takes a lot more energy to start a stopped car, as compared to getting a moving object to move faster. So being able to use an automatic cars slow acceleration to as they say, “get the ball rolling,” would be a great and more efficient way to get your car moving out of a stop instead of just hopping to the acceleration pedal.
The sixth step is to get in touch with your car’s cruise control. Why get in touch with it? The reason for this is because when you’re on cruise control, you can accelerate at very small increments, or continually accelerate because at a gradual and slow pace. Going into to cruise control can save you put a lot more money in your pocket. While you use the cruise control, you can slow down by turning it off with the cancel button. Although you have to make sure to that you know how the decelerate, accelerate, set and cancel buttons work in situations where you won’t risk an accident.
The seventh step is where you might need to invest a little into your car but it’s definitely worth it by the amount of gas that you save overall. The seventh and final step is investing in certain aftermarket car and truck parts can save you gas. These parts are and not limited to performance air filters, performance chips, low profile tonneau covers, air intake and shocks.
“Acceleration rate reductions can deliver some small fuel savings, but avoiding accelerations and decelerations altogether saves larger amounts of fuel(Gonder et al. 2010).”
This table shows the analysis of eliminate stops and near stops at different levels.
“Though the additional savings at any given speed threshold are not consistent across the five cycles, each cycle does show some additional savings from reducing slow-and-go in addition to stop-and-go driving (Gonder et al. 2010)”.
An important fact this article mentions is that people should try to anticipate whether or not they can continue their speed or if they should start slowing down early so you do not waste gas by speeding up or keep stopping and starting again and again. However, I think that it is hard to do this in Hawaii because our island is so small and we almost always have a lot of traffic. It is extremely hard to avoid our stops and near stops especially in traffic. I think the only way you could avoid stops and near stops is if you stay kind of far away from the car in front of you and driving slowly. However that also gives more opportunities for other cars in other lanes to cut in front of you. When I am not in a hurry, I have tried to anticipate the car ahead of me so i do not have to brake too much but it does require patience. i also think that it is easier for me to do so because I drive a standard or manual car, so if I need to slow down, I can just switch gears and I do not have to brake too often.
In another study done on fuel consumption, they found that:
“Higher average acceleration among city trips seems to correspond with higher fuel consumption. For highway trips, higher average speed again seems to be the strongest indicator of poor fuel consumption (although here also high acceleration will result in high fuel consumption even at moderate average speeds) (Gonder et al. 2010).”
So we can see that one factor found that increased fuel consumption is speeding. Speeding is a common occurrence though. Many people feel the need to hurry to their destination or they just love the thrill of speeding. My mom loves to speed and she thinks that everyone that is slower than her should “get out of her way”. I also have an aunt that just loves the thrill speeding gives her, although because of her speeding, she has accumulated a lot of tickets. Both my mom and aunt spend more money than I do on gas because of that. However, I noticed that when I drive more than speed limit a lot, I need to fill gas sooner than usual. So if people tried to drive speed limit more often, they could probably save a little more money on gas. However, it is easier said than done.
Students are also learning more about hypermiling. At Darmouth college, student were challenged to analyze hypermiling and its effectiveness in a study. After the study, students were able to connect what they learned about hypermiling in the study to the real world. This study was able to help students be able to understand more about fuel economy and what affects it (Sullivan and Franklin; 1-6). So even college students are now studying the effects of hypermiling and if they are as effective as people believe.
Car Companies input on Hypermiling
“High fuel economy is only one of many desirable vehicle attributes. Consumers also value acceleration and handling, safety, comfort, reliability, passenger and load-carrying capacity, size, styling, and low noise and vibration, not to mention low purchase and ownership costs. Society at large requires vehicles to have certain additional attributes, such as low exhaust emissions. All of these attributes influence vehicle design and technology, and most of them affect fuel economy. As a consequence, the fuel economy of a vehicle results from the trade-offs, guided in part by costs and benefits, that must be made among a variety of vehicle characteristics. (Committee Staff on Fuel Economy of Automobiles and L; 1992)“
Of course people desire to have cars that have high fuel economy since gas prices keep growing and our overall economy is not doing so well right now. They could probably make a car that can have one hundred miles to the gallon, however it may be a very tiny car that barely fits one person and does not have any accessories such as a radio, air conditioner, comfortable chair, and things like that. The car probably would not be very safe either. Considering how many people get into accidents per year in the US, people would probably pick safety over fuel economy. What would a car with high fuel economy do for you if you died in an accident?
Feedback on Application of Hypermiling
In the article Easier Said Than Done: On the road to becoming a “hypermiler”,the author Pat Wick says:
I have changed my driving habits to increase my gas mileage. Basically, I drive a bit slower and avoid aggressive acceleration and hard braking(Wick 2012).
She also talked about her experience as a hypermiler. She talks about a time that she was using her hypermiling technique by driving about five miles per hour below the speed limit which she believed saved her one more gallon of gas a week. She also goes on to talk about how to become a hypermiler you must first start by being aware of how you drive (Wick 2012). We know that with the rising gas prices, more and more people will probably start hypermiling to try and save money on gas. Either that or we will have more people riding our public transit systems. Although there are still people out there that oppose hypermiling for various reasons. However, hypermiling benefits our environment and the quality of the driving experience. I feel more relaxed when I am not rushing to get somewhere and/or braking heavily.
Another blogger also re-instills his belief about the benefit of hypermiling to a non-believer in a blog response:
It is a myth that all hypermiling techniques are dangerous and that hypermiling techniques impede traffic...Hypermiling is not about driving one particular way but about learning how to select and adapting one of many different energy efficient driving techniques to a specific driving environment. Hence, one could read a thick book on hypermiling techniques but if one never practiced hypermiling in the real world - one would never really understand how to apply it in the real world.(Richmond 2011)
So for the people out there that do not believe in hypermiling: you cannot say that you do not like it or believe in it if you have not experienced it for yourself. You may end up liking it; especially because you would be saving money. Many people believe that it impedes traffic but if everyone was hypermiling, traffic would probably run a lot smoother and perhaps more and more people would feel good about their driving experiences everyday. More people may feel less stressed and perhaps there would be less traffic or being in traffic altogether would be a better experience. You would not know until you try.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
The Corporate Average Fuel Economy was brought forth by Congress in 1975 and it’s main goal was to reduce energy consumption by maximizing the fuel economy of cars and light trucks. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) who administers the CAFE program and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides the fuel economy information. NHTSA sets fuel economy standards for cars and light trucks sold in the U.S. while EPA calculates the average fuel economy for each manufacturer(NHTSA.gov). The NHTSA website also offers information on car safety and news updates on the latest government activity concerning traffic laws, safety, and fuel economy. It is convenient to have a site like this available so you can know what it going.
Hypermiling is not restricted to the U.S. Anywhere around the world that changes their driving or cars to benefit the fuel economy is part of the hypermiling movement. London plans to change its priority of its street to these fuel efficient cars.
“Plans include 25,000 charging points with all new buildings and 20% of all parking spaces to have charging points.” (John, 2009)
Not only fuel efficient but electric cars. Even with electric cars, there are hypermiling techniques to reduce range anxiety Electric cars are battery powered unlike regular cars that eat up gas. Range anxiety is the fear that the driver’s electric vehicle will lose battery life before they reach their destination. Simply changing your driving style can save battery life, just like saving gas in a regular vehicle. Technologies such as OSKAR helps hypermiliers. OSKAR is an dashboard system that keeps track of trips and the way a person drives easing the Range anxiety of electric car drivers. This system also helps find the nearest charging or battery changing shop and how long it may take. (Skeeter, A.K, 2012)
Hypermiling could possible make the world a better place. It is better for our environment because we would release less emissions. Although we just began using electric cars and creating more ways to create more electrical energy, we could stop burning fossil fuels to benefit our environment and people as a whole. Electric cars are our new future, but because the popularity or electric cars are slowly growing and electric charge stations are still being built, we can do our part to help save our environment and save money by hypermiling. There are already two electric charging stations at the Pearlridge mall. Soon there will be electric charging stations all over the island and gas costs will probably start skyrocketing to ten dollars a gallon! But before that happens, we should all think about getting an electric car. But until then, let us all hypermile to save money on gas and save our environment.
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Richmond, B. (2011, January 31). [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://groups.google.com/group/alt.autos.toyota.prius/browse_thread/thread/ccc776406ae964b3/c4f6b807e02b5d76?q=hypermiling
Electronic Resources and Databases
"Automotive Fuel Economy: How Far Can We Go?" National Academy of Sciences. (1992, April).[Electronic Resource]. Retrieved from http://site.ebrary.com.eres.library.manoa.hawaii.edu/lib/uhmanoa/docDetail.action?docID=10056736
"CAFE - Fuel Economy." Fuel Economy. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.[Electronic Resource] Retrieved from http://www.nhtsa.gov/fuel-economy
Other additional sources
Skeeter, A.K. (2012, March 1). [Web log message]. Retrieved from
How to calculate your mpg. (2012, March 4). Retrieved from