Who is responsible?

Was Oppenheimer responsible for the deaths his deadly toy caused or was it the pilot who dropped the bomb, or the general who gave the order to drop it or the president who gave that order to the general?

To what degree are we responsible and accountable for the misuse of the technology we create?

These are questions that advocates of road safety want to start asking of cell phone manufacturers, internet providers and app makers. If you have the technology to stop people from texting and driving, are you morally responsible to make sure that technology is incorporated into the cell phones you sell?

To date, the most that has been done, mostly by third parties rather than by the cell phone manufacturers is that a few anti distracted driving campaigns have been run and a few apps have been created that are mostly voluntary and easily bypassed by a driver who wishes to ignore them.

To make matters worse, cell phone usage is dramatically increasing day to day. Talks about texting and driving or talking while driving are discussions that are now relegated to a distant past. Today’s cell phone users are using Facebook (including Face time), Skyping, tweeting, instagramming, snapchatting, gaming and surfing the Internet, all while changing lanes and dealing with other drivers who are doing the same. It’s a recipe for disaster and that particular recipe is baking up a cake that we aren’t prepared to eat.

The most recent statistics tell us that in the USA, 11 teenagers die every day because they were, in one way or another, distracted by their cell phone while driving. Of the approximate 2.5 million accidents each year, 1.6 million of them are thought to be attributed to distracted driving.

Interestingly enough, while most of us (90 some percent) admit to using our cell phones while driving, 74%-94% of drivers support a ban on cell phone usage while behind the wheel (the 20% variance has to do with the degree of the ban).

Do you understand what this discrepancy between what we do and what we say means? It means that, while we support a ban on cell phone usage while driving we also admit that we don’t have the discipline and fortitude to patrol ourselves and not do it. We believe that we shouldn’t be doing it and we do it nonetheless.

This brings us full circle from where we began at the beginning of this post. If we can’t find the strength of will not to do it should it be forced on us by cell phone manufacturers and internet providers? The technology does exist. Cell phones could cease to function as soon as certain speed is detected. Allowing passengers to access and use their phones while still blocking the driver’s phone, while still somewhat problematic, can be overcome.

So why isn’t it happening seeing as a vast majority of us actually favor it? The answer, as usual, has to do with profits.  The Consumer Technology Association (CTA) and the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association (CTIA) are two lobby groups who are lobbying Washington to block the Visual-Manual NHTSA Driver Distraction Guidelines for Portable and Aftermarket Devices. These two groups are comprised of over 2,000 companies who stand to lose money if this bill is passed. Companies like Apple, Verizon, Google, Samsung and other telecommunication giants who stand to lose money any time you log off are trying to get congress and President Trump to vote down or veto the bill. They would rather we stay online even if it means an increase in lives lost because of distracted driving.

Let’s hear your thoughts on this…