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Phone app blocks could curb distracted driving

Last year, 35,092 people died on U.S. highways. Up 7.2 percent from 2014, the spike in deaths is the largest single-year increase in traffic fatalities since 1966. The U.S. Department of Transportation cites increased distractions from cell phones as one reason for the rise in deaths.

What can be done to curb distracted driving and traffic deaths? The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is encouraging cell phone manufacturers to limit app functions if a car is in drive. This solution could be self-solving. While it may be tough to sense when an older model car is in drive, technology is continually integrated into new vehicles.

Self-regulating solution

Apps like Pandora and Google Maps are becoming increasingly popular for both cell phones and in-car interfaces. As connectivity between vehicles and mobile devices improves, safety features can more easily be integrated into apps. Meanwhile, cell phone manufacturers Apple and Samsung believe that any formal regulation could stifle innovation.

The CEO of the National Safety Council, a national non-profit organization, has also said that government regulation would be ineffective because technology continues to outpace public safety efforts.

Local impact

Cell phone use of any kind while driving in prohibited in the city of Detroit. Outside of the city proper, the state of Michigan only prohibits texting while driving. This law is tricky for drivers who reside in the city of Detroit. Insurance rates are higher in the city than in the suburbs despite a poorer population per capita.

A driver from the suburbs who is at-fault in an accident in Detroit could still be paying lower insurance premiums after the event than a driver who lives in the city. If you or a loved one is injured in a distracted driving accident, you can seek compensation from the other driver to ensure he or she is held responsible for his or her actions.

Federal regulators, car makers and innovators will continue to tip-toe around each other in a dance that will center itself in Detroit. Meanwhile, consumers can best avoid the dangers of distracted driving by putting the cell phone away and focusing on the road.

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