8/17/2011 at 10:53 PM by
Distracted driving has become the number one safety concern of the driving public and is the number one reason for auto accidents. According to Reuters, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood called distracted driving a serious “epidemic.” Toyota is spending $50 million on research into issues including distracted driving, a “growing cause of accidents.” Figures released at the conference by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) showed more than 5,800 distracted driving deaths and 515,000 injuries last year. In addition, two studies show driver distraction due to technology is still a key factor in accidents.
Additionally, statistics show that texting is already a wildly popular form of communication and that there are 110 billion texts per month. Eleven percent of adults admit using their cell phones while driving; 50 percent of teens admit to texting while driving. Because texting is convenient and short — only 160 characters per message — drivers may mistakenly believe that a quick text from behind the wheel is acceptable. Studies show otherwise. The average amount of time spent concentrating on a text while driving is five seconds. In five seconds, a vehicle travelling at normal speed on the highway covers the length of a football field. On our side streets and in our neighborhoods, the danger is no less real, even at slower speeds.
Distracted driving "is a growing problem in the sense of our recognition of it, but the fact is, it's always been there," says Adrian Lund, president of IIHS, which has worked with the Transportation Department's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for years. And as Governors Highway Safety Association Executive Director Barbara Harsha notes, a "public outcry" against cellphone use while driving has motivated federal and state officials to act. Thirty-four states now prohibit texting by all drivers; another eight outlaw it for juvenile drivers. No state completely bans drivers from using cell phones. Eight states, including California, allow only hands-free cell phone use. More and more states are proposing new legislation to prohibit texting by all drivers. Holding the phone while driving could cost you a lot of money and points on your license.
The Department of Transportation says distracted driving was linked to 10% of fatal crashes in 2005. That increased to 16% in 2008 and leveled off at 16% in 2009, thanks to DOT's efforts.
Studies by IIHS and others show that using a cellphone while driving quadruples the risk of a crash. In an analysis of 7,000 crashes released in September, NHTSA concluded 30 percent involved some type of distraction. (The Transportation Department notes it studied crashes in 2005 through 2007 and the number of monthly text messages has increased from about 7 billion in 2005 to about 173 billion in 2010.)
Automakers, which are regulated by NHTSA, are actively supporting LaHood's effort on distracted driving. They almost uniformly support bans on handheld cellphones but would oppose efforts to restrict hands-free calls. Mike Stanton, CEO of the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers, says his group's priority for state legislation will be getting texting and handheld bans passed that apply to all drivers and allow police to pull over people just for using their phones while driving. Stanton says there is not enough research to support restrictions on hands-free phones. That is why carmakers have an interest in preserving drivers' ability to talk on the phone, at least with a headset or speakerphone, as many vehicles have phone-related technology.
Is it the right priority? Voice Assist CEO, Michael Metcalf says, “Telling people not to use a cellphone is almost like saying, ‘Don’t breathe.’ Given that Americans are addicted to web access and tech toys, it will never work to simply ban them. So we’ve figured out how we make people safer and allow them to talk like they’re talking to a passenger, making it safer and more useful. When you want to call, text, send or check e-mail or post to a social network, you simply push one button on your Bluetooth® headset or speakerphone and then say what you want to do. Voice Assist does the rest by converting your voice into text. Additionally, if the person on the other end uses Voice Assist and receives your text, they simply push one button on their Bluetooth headset or speakerphone and the text is read to them. This enables both parties to keep their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.”
At Voice Assist, our goal is to keep mobile consumers safe while they are operating a vehicle so they can keep their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. For about the cost of a cup of coffee, mobile consumers can call, text, email or post all by voice, allowing them to focus on the road ahead.
8/9/2011 at 11:26 PM by
Just a few weeks ago, Andrew Seybold, Inc. released a white paper titled “Working in Voice Mode” that is geared towards the mobile worker. Amazingly enough, there are 1.3 billion mobile workers out there that have unprecedented access to tools and systems that help them maintain productivity while away from the office or workplace. Add to this fact, that in today’s busy “heads-down,” rapidly moving business environment there is undo pressure on the mobile worker to report back on the last sales call or meeting and get new information needed for the upcoming appointment, and employers could be setting themselves up for putting these mobile workers in an unsafe, distracted driving environment, increasing liability for the corporation.
Thirty-four states now require hands-free devices to be used when driving. Typically, these consist of Bluetooth® devices that are used for incoming and outgoing voice calls. However, they do nothing to address the issue of data requirements: texting, emails, Internet access, and access to corporate information and databases. The tendency is still to take one’s eyes off the road when trying to complete these data-intensive tasks.
Using Voice Assist’s cloud-based software to work in Voice Mode provides the mobile worker with a complete solution for voice calls, text, emails, and accessing corporate data and information. Voice Mode enables the mobile worker to use his or her voice to complete these tasks. It is an end-to-end solution that makes use of the standard wireless device, requires no additional software, uses an existing wireless account, and a smart back-end server or cloud-based system that converts voice to text and vice versa. The back-end system not only enables the sending and receiving of text and emails, but can be interfaced with corporate applications.
Today, mobile workers have all of the capabilities in the field that they used to have only in the office. Voice Mode has arrived due to a convergence of technologies including superior cloud-based speech recognition, better noise-canceling microphone technology, pervasive high-speed wireless connectivity, and new techniques to provide voice access to business data and applications. Voice Mode is the result of a blending or convergence of information usage and access with the flexibility of voice in order to provide users with the best of both worlds: access to all of the information that is available using a smartphone with the safety and convenience of voice.
In reality, Voice Mode converts what we have needed our fingers and eyes for to a voice-only solution. Since it works with a Bluetooth headset, it can be used anywhere – not only in the car, but also on the roam or in the office. Voice Mode is changing the way business is done, making workers safer and increasing their productivity with the most basic of all communication tools – the human voice.
To get a full copy of the white paper, “Working in Voice Mode,” click on http://www.voiceassist.com/whitepapers.aspx.
6/22/2011 at 11:45 PM by
The headlines this week were all about the Governor of Texas vetoing a bill that would have banned texting while driving. Ironically, this same legislation has been passed in 34 other states (http://www.iihs.org/laws/maptextingbans.aspx). Despite the fact that in 2010 there were 5,800 fatalities and 515,000 accidents (according to the NHTSA), Texas Gov. Rick Perry thought a bill aimed at preventing future deaths was "overreaching." In vetoing the bill that would have banned texting while driving, Perry said the government had no business telling us we can't do such a thing! The Texas veto came despite overwhelming support in the Texas House, which passed House Bill 242 in April by a 124-16 vote.
More harm than good? Saving even one life would produce more harm than good? Doesn't the government step into other areas of our lives, in the hopes of saving even one person? The veto has supporters of the bill scratching their heads, and many grieving families determined to continue their fight.
Texting while driving may seem harmless, but distracted drivers account for 4 of 5 crashes in the U.S., and looking away for just 2 seconds doubles that danger. Recent studies indicate that reaching for your phone while driving increases your chances of crashing by nine times and texting while driving is like drinking four beers and getting behind the wheel.
The Texas governor needs to be reminded that the government demands we wear our seat beats while driving and sets speed limits. That is not, I suppose, overreaching.
Johnny Mac and Jeanne Brown of west Texas became texting ban activists after tragedy, following the death of their teenage daughter, Alex Brown, who crashed her car in November 2010 on her way to school. She was texting and not wearing a seat belt (Extreme Makeover: Home Edition).
People have a right to freedoms, however, when a driver chooses to read a text, he is taking his eyes off the road, putting his life and the lives of his passengers in danger. I think the Texas battle is far from over.
In the meantime, a Voice Assist subscription combined with a high quality Bluetooth headset or speakerphone (like the ones offered by Jabra), will keep the drivers in Texas (and the other 49 states) from becoming distracted drivers so their hands can stay on the wheel and eyes on the road!
5/31/2011 at 8:54 PM by
Memorial Day kicks off the start of summer, and that means the summer travel season is upon us. When planning for that summer road trip, there’s a lot of things to consider: what to pack, directions to where you are going, food for the car, activities for the kids.
You can help make your road trip much safer for yourself, your passengers, and the others around you if you make a habit of keeping the driving task as JOB ONE. With a little preparation, your trip can be a safe, enjoyable one.
If you’re like most drivers, you like to multi-task, even while you’re in the car. When planning for a road trip, you want to minimize your distractions. Voice Assist has made a safe way to be productive and safe while driving. With the Voice Assist virtual assistant, you have an easy wall to call, text, check or send e-mails, or post to social networks so your hands can stay on the wheel and eyes on the road…And in terms of other distractions, let someone else do the navigating or change the radio station! It's important to recognize your distractions—and make conscious efforts to minimize or avoid them.
If you think about how much distance your vehicle is covering during the time you are distracted—at about 1.47 feet per second for each mile-per-hour you are driving, you can easily see how important it is to keep your mind and eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel! At 60 miles per hour, for example, every second that elapses you cover almost 90 feet (60 X 1.47 = 88.2)—all while you might be fumbling for the cell phone you dropped!
In almost every case, a driver involved in a collision had an opportunity to avoid the collision—even when the other driver was responsible for the errors that led to the collision. Officers will tell you that a very common "excuse" heard after a collision is, "I never saw him!" Why? Quite often, it's because they were not paying attention to their surroundings and situation - and many times, that inattention was because the driver was distracted. To be a safe and responsible driver, it's important to recognize this and make constant efforts to avoid getting distracted.
Indiana recently became the 32nd state to ban all drivers from texting while driving. Anyone who has been close to a driver whose head is bobbing up and down as they read or compose texts must be asking, "What's taking the other 18 states so long?"
With the summer driving season rapidly approaching, this is a good time to review the hands-free laws, in relation to use of electronic devices in vehicles. While texting bans have caught on quickly, laws against cellphone use are being accepted more slowly. Only eight states prohibit all drivers from using handheld cellphones: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Oregon and Washington.
Perhaps that will change as more states collect statistics on how often distracted driving related to cellphones or electronic equipment is a factor in traffic accidents. Legislation pending in Congress would require states to collect such data to qualify for certain federal funding.
So, while we certainly urge everyone to follow the traffic laws in whatever state they are driving, we also urge them to follow the "laws" of common sense.
When you are driving, focus on driving.
Save the messy food for when you are out of the car.
Don't turn your head to talk to a passenger -- especially one in the back seat.
Use a Bluetooth® headset or speakerphone combined with Voice Assist so you can answer your calls, texts or e-mails without having to look at your phone.
Program your GPS navigation system when the car isn't moving -- and don't stare hypnotically at the screen.
To quote a line from the long-gone television show, "Hill Street Blues": "Let's be careful out there."
3/30/2011 at 10:53 PM by
Last week, the International CTIA Wireless show in Orlando was quite eventful. Voice Assist announced their partnership with Jabra, and Jabra announced their new FREEWAY product (bundled with one year of Voice Assist) that won 3 awards while at the show. Demonstrated very successfully at the Voice Assist booth, this revolutionary new speakerphone is bringing audio quality to a whole new level thanks to a ground-breaking new three speaker system. This is the first of its kind in the industry, not to mention support for HD Ready Voice for superior audio quality regardless of whether you are the one receiving the call or making one. This is exciting for those of us that don't particulary like sticking things in our ears!
The Jabra FREEWAY clips to your car’s visor where it will turn on automatically whenever the car door is opened, and will automatically turn itself off after 15 minutes of inactivity, so you need not fret about whether there is enough battery for the next call or not. By pressing the Voice button and saying, "Voice Assist," I was able to easily place and answer calls, send and receive text messages or e-mails, and post to Facebook and Twitter. The combination of the two products is perfect to ensure compliance with the hands-free driving laws in over 30 states now. This way, users can keep their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road, allowing quick response to road conditions.
Look for the new FREEWAY product in retail outlets in May and share the gift of safety with those you love. The combination of the FREEWAY and Voice Assist make the perfect Mother's or Father's Day gifts!