Cell Phones, Gadgets and Distracted Driving

A billboard in Sarasota, Fla. (Scenic America) FairWarining Reports

Evidence Mounts of Distraction Risks from Digital Billboards Along Roadways

Digital billboards clearly catch the eye of passing motorists. But what is also increasingly clear is that such distractions can heighten safety risks in heavy traffic and other complex driving conditions, a long-time roadway researcher says. That conclusion by Jerry Wachtel, a traffic safety consultant and one-time Federal Highway Administration staffer, came from his recent […]

A billboard in Sarasota, Fla. (Scenic America) FairWarining Reports

Highway Agency Takes a Hit Over Safety Report on Electronic Billboards

Why did the billboard cross the road? It sounds like the opening line of a corny joke, but it’s actually a question raised by a baffling glitch in a Federal Highway Administration study on the safety of electronic billboards. Billboards that seem magically to have moved from one side of the highway to the other […]

A billboard in Sarasota, Fla. FairWarining Investigates

Feds Leaving Cities, States in Dark on Billboard Safety

While battles flare in communities across the country over digital billboards, many state and local officials have hoped that a study launched by the Federal Highway Administration in 2007 would clarify key traffic safety issues. But the results of the politically sensitive research are long overdue, and still are a mystery. Records obtained by FairWarning suggest the reason why the study has remained under wraps: Experts say it was botched.

Safety Agency Urges Complete Ban on Cellphone Use by Drivers

A federal safety agency, in an unprecedented move, is urging states to adopt bans on all non-emergency cellphone use by drivers. The recommendation by the National Transportation Safety Board, an advisory and investigative agency, would apply to hands-free as well as hand-held devices. As The New York Times reports, that would go beyond any of […]

Smartphones, Dumb Drivers

Can you safely talk on a cellphone — or for that matter, check your email or scroll through Google Maps — while driving? Well, of course you can. But those other folks with their hands off the wheel and their eyes off the road are a public menace. Unfortunately, that sums up the attitude of […]

Truckers, Bus Drivers Face U.S. Ban on Handheld Cellphones

Federal regulators have imposed a ban starting next month on the use of handheld cellphones by interstate truckers and bus drivers. The ban, intended to curb crashes due to distracted driving, falls short of a recommendation issued in September by the National Transportation Safety Board but opposed by the trucking industry. That agency — which […]

Hit by Criticism, Ford to Add Electronic Safety Features for Explorer Models

Automakers lately have touted lots of new electronic options for their cars, including technology that lets drivers use voice commands and touch screens to make and receive calls and listen to their text messages. As FairWarning reported last month, though, many of those new gizmos worry safety advocates. They say that the automakers — even […]

Poll Finds High-Tech Safety Features Are Off Drivers’ Radar Screens

Shoppers in the market for a new car can consider a dizzying array of electronic options. The possibilities include everything from video and fancy sound systems to safety features designed to help drivers avoid hazards. Yet among American consumers, safety options appear to be taking a back seat to the infotainment gizmos. At least that […]

Texting While Driving Even Worse Than Previously Thought, Study Finds

There’s no serious dispute that texting while driving leads to crashes that get a lot of people hurt and killed. But, as The Associated Press reports, new research has found that the distraction of texting undermines the performance of drivers even more than previously thought. The study, by the Texas Transportation Institute, monitored 42 drivers […]

(iStockphoto) FairWarining Investigates

Mixed Message?

While Assailing Driving Distractions, Automakers Pack in Tempting Gadgets

Automakers are positioning themselves as leaders in the fight against distracted driving, which causes an estimated 5,400 deaths per year, including nearly 1,000 related to cell phone use. Even as they tell drivers to act responsibly and pay attention to the road, the car companies are seeking to pump up sales by packing their new models with cutting-edge electronics that encourage multi-tasking behind the wheel. But the industry denies it is sending a mixed message.