Viewpoint: Telematics, cognitive dissonance and distracted driving

Viewpoint: Telematics, cognitive dissonance and distracted driving

How does one begin a conversation about distracted driving with the endlessly distracted?

On one side of our cognitive dissonance, each of us knows that any attention given to a smart mobile device while driving is a terrible idea. The quarrel over managing both devices between the greater and lesser skilled is simply exhibition of the condition.

And, on the other side of our conflicted reality, we are each likely to acknowledge that few, if any, types of communication while driving are more important than personal, passenger, or proximate persons’ safety. Separating out vital though typically voice-based emergency services leaves the average driver with a lot of time for device interaction. Research data and any casual observation would confirm this. (For more on distracted driving, see DOT’s distraction guidelines as challenge and opportunity, What DOT’s new distraction guidelines mean for telematics, Distraction guidelines as a telematics business opportunity and Telematics, regulation and driver distraction.)

Connectivity and cognitive dissonance

Reconciling these conflicting factors proves elusive. Few of us can peer into our reflection and see a clean record of driving without interacting with our smart device. We know it is wrong, but nothing terrible has happened … yet.

Our cognitive dissonance steers the market conversation into a cul-de-sac of uncontrollable and temperamental external forces, which cannot see beyond the basic argument:  Technology is bad and connectivity should be banned completely while driving. These thoughts have been echoed by the US Secretary of Transportation.

However well intentioned, regulatory brushes often paint quite broadly across the consumer canvas. Leaving decisions to these external agents is rarely in industry’s interests. Ramifications—such as patchwork quilts of inter-related regulations, compliance and cost, component sourcing and economics, responsibility shifting between content, automotive, and mobile companies—are each plausible.

Just as conflicting factors create individual and collective inaction on distracted driving, so the combination of industries required to solve the problem creates its own obstacles. The solution requires innovation across the ecosystem.

Innovation across the ecosystem

As within any networked system, the entering device needs to be recognized as joining a domain, the vehicle systems. As it enters the vehicle domain, it should be granted certain rights and privileges, just as a user ID and password grant access within a networked domain. Such a governing system would be aware of and control the vehicle, device, and network capabilities, which interact with and complement one another.

Profiles and attributes that define behavioral parameters for driver and service interaction can be dynamically distributed to subscribing domains. These profiles can be sourced from roadway governmental agencies, insurance carriers, and/or parental or company authorities. They will be stored within middleware clouds that govern the interaction of vehicle and cloud and device-based services. They will make transparent the actions of both driver and vehicle, creating a networked black box of sorts, with both predictive and historical capabilities.

Ultimately, the societal benefits of integrating automotive, mobile, and content and service industries into the driving task will reduce distraction drastically. The actions we take in the coming months and years to safely and smartly integrate vehicular and device-based mobility are the foundations to quieting our cognitive dissonance.

Leo McCloskey is VP, Marketing for Airbiquity Inc.

For more from Leo McCloskey, see Airbiquity: “Connectivity is quickly becoming standard” and Airbiquity: “Consumers expect services tailored to them from their selected information sources”.

For all the latest trends in connectivity, visit Content and Apps for Automotive USA 2012 on December 4-5 in San Diego.

For all the latest telematics trends, check out Telematics Munich 2012 on October 29-30 and Telematics for Fleet Management USA 2012 on November 13-14 in Atlanta.

Coming up in 2013: V2X for Auto Safety and Mobility Europe 2013 on February 19-20 in Frankfurt, Telematics for Fleet Management Europe 2013 on March 19-20 in Amsterdam, Insurance Telematics Europe 2013 on May 8-9 in London and Telematics India and South Asia 2013 on June 5-7 in India.

For exclusive telematics business analysis and insight, check out TU’s reports: In-Vehicle Smartphone Integration Report, Human Machine Interface Technologies and Smart Vehicle Technology: The Future of Insurance Telematics.

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