The Evolution of Hands-Free Driving

The Evolution of Hands-Free Driving

Studies show that nearly 100 people die in vehicle collisions every day and up to 90% of these collisions are the results of driver error.  Various distracted driving practices are the causes behind many drivers’ fatal mistakes.  As drivers, a lot of us trust in our ability to multi-task behind the wheel; however, research shows that humans’ ability to multi-task may be nothing more than a myth.  When we multi-task, our brains are quickly toggling between multiple things, but never fully accomplishing more than one simultaneously. An act as simple as listening to a phone call or a passenger speaking can reduce your brain’s ability to complete another task, such as image processing, by up to 30 percent.  This realization has led to the development of a new trend in automobile technology: hands-free driving.

Several automakers are designing, manufacturing, and testing new technology intended to make driving less stressful and tiresome, by handing control over to technology built into the vehicle.  The ultimate goal with these sophisticated systems is to eliminate the driver errors that cause serious and fatal crashes.  Although most automakers do not anticipate selling cars for several years that can be operated hands-free all the time, the technology is evolving quickly.

Companies such as Tesla Motors, Mercedes-Benz, and General Motors are already offering vehicles that offer features with the ability to relieve the burden of the driver.  Some vehicles and systems, including the Audi A7 and the Cruise RP-1, offer a form of highway autopilot.  This means that vehicles have the ability to change lanes independently and autonomously follow other vehicles on the highway at a safe speed and distance.  Although experts are hesitant to confirm the current existence of autonomous vehicles, advanced driving systems such as theses are bringing the industry closer and closer.

New technology is rarely introduced into our everyday lives without some resistance and hands-free driving systems are no different.  Although these systems are intended to make roads safer by eliminating driver error, experts are worried about other safety risks that the new technology itself may pose.  There is concern that such systems will give drivers the illusion that it is safe to take their eyes and mind off the road, rather than being prepared to take back control if something unexpected occurs.

Distracted driving already accounts for as much as 16 percent of all vehicles collisions and some experts fear that hands-free driving technology will make this problem worse.  Because automated driving systems are not yet widely available, it is hard to draw conclusions about their effect.  However, experts are urging automakers, federal and state governments, and individual drivers to be prepared to address the distraction risk of the new technology.  Some automakers, including Audi are already taking steps to account for this risk by implementing technology that will detect and issue warnings when drivers have become distracted.

Whether you or your automotive technology is responsible for driving your car, it is always important to have your eyes and mind on the road.  Safe Drive System’s RD-140 System is designed to make this easier.  With lane departure and potential collision warnings, the RD-140 system makes attentive driving even easier.