Here are two things to consider this holiday season:
What's the connection? Interestingly, but not surprisingly, your phone knows that you are more likely to glance at an email or Facebook post while behind the wheel during the stretch between Thanksgiving and New Year’s than you might be any other time.
TrueMotion, a company that has a family of driving apps, just released statistics showing a 33 percent jump in distracted driving over the holidays. The data doesn’t come from an estimate, but from the smartphones of 3,000 drivers who had downloaded the TrueMotion safe-driving app before the survey period between November 2017 and January 2018.
TruMotion technology can go into any mobile app to collect driving data from the phone, a feature that users must opt into. Statistics are then calculated from a collection of the phone's sensor data, including speeding and braking, which is analyzed with algorithms. TruMotion assures users that it can't see any actual content on the phone, like texts or emails.
A common question the company receives is, how do you tell who is driving and who is a passenger?
According to a TruMotion spokesperson, “This is a hard problem to solve! We do it by looking at a number of factors. These include how the person rotates in and out of the car when they enter/exit. If they rotate counterclockwise when entering the car, we know they’re entering from the driver side of the car. We also look at signals such as if they connect to the car’s Bluetooth, put the phone on the windshield (to use maps), and frequent routes. To differentiate from the front and the back seat of the car, we measure the vibrations of the front and rear axles as the vehicle travels.”
Based on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's most recently available data, 3,450 people were killed and 391,000 injured in crashes involving distracted drivers in 2016. The tragedy of those statistics combined with the 33 percent increase in holiday distracted driving make for a cautionary tale.
Texting while driving is banned in 47 states, and some states prohibit all use of handheld devices while driving. Yet, we all have a story that involves seeing a vehicle swerving on the highway - only to glance over at the driver and see their eyes glued to a phone.
Bottom line: you can only control the choices YOU make, and the best way to stay safe in holiday traffic is to stay off your phone!