Articles Tagged with distracted driving

A new mobile app is sweeping the nation and its name is Pokémon Go. For those of us that experienced it first hand, Pokémon first landed big in the U.S. back in the 90s and captured the imaginations of children far and wide. The franchise has come back around, and this time it’s making its first smart phone debut.

The premise is simple and the series’ tagline: catch ‘em all. Players are tasked with collecting all the 151 types of pocket monsters, or Pokémon, and the mobile game has its players do this by exploring the real world. Using the phone’s GPS, players explore an augmented reality of the real world. They track down the nearby monsters and catch them as they appear transposed onto what the phone’s camera sees. The game itself is innocuous, excluding a recent security concern regarding an error in what account information is available to the game.

What has been causing some real world pressures though has been player behavior. This is in line with typical concerns of smart phone usage, especially with operation while driving. The allure of catching Pokémon at any time has led to some overeager players to attempt to play the game while driving, with sometimes disastrous results. It’s not just driving either. There have been cases of players straying into traffic, trespassing, and even walking off cliffs in pursuit of wild Pokémon. Some local governments are even considering passing regulation specifically targeting the game.

Starting Oct. 1, police in Maryland will be able to pull drivers over for talking on a hand-held cell phone as a primary offense. Driving while talking on a hand-held cell phone was already against state law, but it was a secondary offense, meaning police could only ticket a driver for it if the driver was stopped for a primary offense, such as speeding.

Drivers caught driving while using a hand-held mobile phone can be fined $75 for a first-time offense, up from $40 under current law, but more for subsequent violations. The ticket carries no points unless the action contributed to an accident.

The new law will help reduce distracted driving, which accounted for nearly half of all road fatalities in Maryland last year.

So I was asked to appear on WPFW 89.3 this morning with Dave Rayburn to discuss the most dangerous intersections for pedestrians in Washington, D.C. We had a really nice discussion of what intersections are the most dangerous and why.

The worst intersections mostly fall in a very dense cluster around K Street NW between 12th Street and 20th Street NW.

There are a number of reasons why these locations are so dangerous to pedestrians:

Distracted driving: The next time you are driving and you reach to pick up your phone to read a text you just received, or you take a phone call while you are driving, consider these facts?

* Distracted driving comes in various forms, such as cell phone use, texting while driving, eating, drinking, talking with passengers, as well as using in-vehicle technologies and portable electronic devices.

* 20 percent of injury crashes in 2009 involved reports of distracted driving. (NHTSA).

Although new laws about texting while driving and using a cell phone while driving have not gone national, and while they have not affected most drivers in the Washington, DC, area, they have hit the National Transportation Safety Board. The new chair woman of the NTSB announced after her swearing in ceremony that NTSB members in Washington, DC, would no longer be allowed to text or talk on the phone while driving on official business. Board members will also be disallowed from talking on or using their work cell phones while driving their personal cars.

The chairwoman, Deborah Hersman, cited recent studies that link car accidents with texting and talking on the phone. Earlier, the recommended that government and transit agencies ban the use of cellphones and other wireless devices for city workers who drive, young people, and train operators who may cause harm with their distracted driving.