Consumer Electronics Association Denies Distracted Driving

Government statistics on Distracted Driving are deeply flawed, defy common sense and severely underestimate the extent of the deadly public health epidemic that is killing untold thousands and injuring millions more.

In a cynical, profit-motivated move, the head of the Consumer Electronics Association today said he would support a campaign to end texting and driving.

“I have made a personal commitment not to text and drive, and to use my devices ‘responsibly’ while operating my car,” claimed Gary Shapiro the head of the pressure group for the $209 billion U.S. consumer electronics industry.

AutoInformed only hopes that none of his loved ones is not killed by the problem his industry is creating.

The problem here is not just texting, of course, but also the use of any electronic device by the driver while operating a motor vehicle. NHTSA currently estimates that more than 3,000 people die in crashes related to distracted driving and cell phone use and 400,000 more are injured each year.

However, a new study from the National Safety Council (NSC) shows that these government statistics on the Distracted Driving problem are deeply flawed, defy common sense and severely underestimate the extent of the deadly public health epidemic that is killing untold thousands and injuring millions more.

The NSC analysis comes as automakers are redoubling efforts to increase the use of phones, infotainment systems and web access in their vehicles – the root cause of the deaths and injuries.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is taking on the oft-used automaker defense their profitable selling of hands-free electronic devices that are expanding exponentially in new cars. The latest data show that dangerous mental distractions exist even when drivers “keep their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road,” the verbal fig leaf automakers use to mask the deadly problem.

The AAA distracted driving research found that as mental workload and distractions increase, reaction time slows, brain function is compromised, drivers scan the road less and miss visual cues, potentially resulting in drivers not seeing items right in front of them including stop signs and pedestrians.

The Auto Alliance, a lobbying group for virtually all major automakers, has been using this message as a defense for the expanding use of automotive electronics. These of course are among the most profitable and sought after accessories in new cars and trucks.

Automakers, phone companies, internet service providers, electronics makers, and above all consumers have thus far shown little interest in curtailing their use in spite of mounting injuries and fatalities caused by them. Handheld consumer electronic devices are equally troubling and unaddressed thus far by NHTSA.

CEA has thus far provided only feeble attempts to deal with the overall distracted driving problem. After ignoring growing evidence of the carnage on the roads form the use of the products the industry sells, CEA is now fighting a rearguard action in a desperate attempt to prevent legislation – much needed as AutoInformed’s readers know – to deal with the deadly problem.

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About Ken Zino

Ken Zino is an auto industry veteran with global experience in print, broadcast and electronic media. He has auto testing, marketing, public relations and communications expertise garnered while working in Asia, Europe and the U.S.
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