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Distracted Driving Legislation and Mobile Video Conferencing

03/21/2010

Unverified “commercial” currently on You Tube shows the potential of smart phone video conferencing.  Are proposed distracted driving bills ready for the next wave of social interaction?

This may be the year live cell phone video conferencing goes mainstream in America.  This may also be the time when state legislatures miss a key opportunity to proactively save lives.

According to many tech observers, Apple may soon introduce two way video conferencing for the I-Phone. Other phone manufacturers are most likely feverishly working on such an application. Sprint is openly talking about video conferencing for new generation devices. With improved 3G and 4G networks making us all electronic neighbors, there is no doubt that if not in 2010, within the next year or two demanding consumers will be given live video connectivity from the smart phone street.  Cameras will face the front, or swivel, and a whole new way to communicate will allow a roving iris to send real time video.  Off the road this technology is clearly exciting and useful.  On the road, however, this new level of communicating may prove horribly deadly.

Yet, as state lawmakers seek to prohibit typing by drivers, their pending bills are strangely myopic…live video conferencing while driving is not mentioned in pending legislation.

A quick survey of various pending bills to control distracted driving in the Florida Legislature reveals no mention of interactive video sessions. Targeted by the legislation is texting, non-voice communications, e-mailing and instant messaging.  Some legislation also prohibits typing commands to mobile browsers while driving. While most, if not all states prohibit the viewing of television while driving, the new tool of interactive two-way mobile video chatting is not expressly stated in much of pending governmental efforts to reduce the threat of evolving technology to those on the road.

Clearly seeing what is coming down the road, Legislators can do better. After all, according to U.S. Department of Transportation, nearly 6000 people died in accidents involving distracted driving in 2008. See more facts here.

It is time for lawmakers to proactively prohibit the distraction of mobile video conferencing for drivers…to save lives before the injury and fatality statistics add up.

For information about current distracted driving laws and statistics, see Distraction.gov, a new website from USDOT. A “sample law” posted on the site, bearing the date of February, 2010, does not address video conferencing.

For more on the alleged Apple commercial, see 3.14.10 Techie Buzz.com post.

 

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One Comment leave one →
  1. 04/15/2010 11:05 pm

    I wonder why we need new laws on the books for this. In Maryland there is a law about distracted driving or just reckless driving. We are now adding no talking on a hand held cell phone while driving. Having a law against the specifics seem to be just a way to add on to charges when someone is charged.

    The flip side of course is that we often need to pass things as laws to try and change people’s behavior as no one seems to have what should now be called uncommon sense.

    My concern is that we need to start rewriting the laws or taking some off the books. We have so many that where ignorance of the law may still not be considered an excuse, it is a matter of fact that with the preponderance of laws we have on the books ignorance of the law is a fact of life for every person in this country.

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