Aug 7, 2019

Study: Cellphone use is not the main culprit of distracted driving

Illustration: GraphicaArtis/Getty Images

Everyone wants to blame texting for distracted driving, but daydreaming and drive-thru coffee may be among the biggest culprits.

The big picture: Distracted driving isn't the same as inattentive driving, and understanding the difference could help automakers design safer cars, according to a Ward's Auto story penned by Steve Tengler, a veteran engineer turned consultant.

  • Driver distraction should refer to an unavoidable incident (such as a driver being stung by a bee).
  • Driver inattention should describe scenarios such as daydreaming, fast food and child supervision.

Details: Being “lost in thought” is the runaway No. 1 cause of distracted driving, according to a 2018 analysis by Erie Insurance, Ward's writes.

  • Police report that 61% of distracted drivers were daydreaming at the time of a fatal crash, compared with 14% of drivers who were distracted by cellphone use.
  •  A 2018 report shows 44% of coffee buyers in the past 24 hours did so at a drive-thru; “food and drink” is among the top causes of distraction-related crashes.
  • One study found interacting with kids in the backseat was 12 times more distracting than talking on cellphone.

The bottom line: “Eyes-on-the-road” driver monitoring technology could help, but as with any technology, the industry needs to prove it can save lives.

Go deeper

Self-driving cars could be more fuel-efficient than human drivers

Photo: Volvo Cars

The expected benefits of self-driving cars are widely touted: They will be safer than human drivers and improve access to transportation for people with disabilities, the elderly and the poor.

One other potential benefit: They will be better for the environment (and not just because most AVs will be electric).

Go deeperArrowAug 7, 2019

Don't expect Carmageddon to kill driving anytime soon

Photo: Kian Eriksen/Total 911 Magazine/Future via Getty Images

Carmageddon is upon us: Before we know it, robo-cars will be ubiquitous and crowd out human-driven cars.

What they're saying: After all, Elon Musk has said that buying anything other than a Tesla that can drive itself will be as financially insane as owning a horse. But horses survived, and driving will too.

Go deeperArrowAug 16, 2019

Mozambique national park turns to coffee to fight deforestation

Photo: ATU Images/Getty Images

400 local farmers have begun to grow coffee trees on the slopes of Mozambique's Mount Gorongosa in an effort to revitalize the quickly disappearing rainforest and boost incomes, reports AP.

The big picture: Nearly 2 decades back, the Gorongosa National Park was considered "derelict" after a brutal civil war and wildlife poaching. "Coffee is a crop that can stop that deforestation," writes the AP. "Shade-grown coffee shrubs produce better tasting coffee beans, so the trees are planted among indigenous trees. Areas that had been denuded of trees now boast verdant slopes of coffee trees interspersed with local trees such as albizias and other crops."

Go deeperArrowAug 24, 2019