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The auto industry is struggling with the idea of how to pile tons of electronics and connectivity into their vehicles (bringing in lots of profit in the process) while also keeping drivers safe and attentive on the road.
They're exploring all sorts of ideas: cars that communicate with one another, voice activated technology, and freezing out cellphones so that they won't work inside the car. The Center for Automotive Research on Friday hosted a panel of speakers working on driver distraction issues, who say the industry is moving quickly toward finding solutions.

Some researchers believe there are answers to be found in the entertainment field. Namely, magic.

"Magic is about learning people's psychology and exploiting that to fool them," said Nick Pudar, vice president of business planning for General Motors' OnStar division. "The same principles can be applied to driver distraction, so we can get your attention when we need to."

Pudar, an amateur magician, said his tricks often involve distracting people so that they aren't paying attention to what he's really doing. But drivers can be trained to put their eyes back on the road using similar techniques.

Volvo is testing a system that would track driver eye movements. If the car senses that the driver isn't looking at the road, it will flash a series of lights on the dashboard, near the windshield, getting the driver's focus back on the road.

Kind of like the magician who sets off a flash fireball with smoke as a distraction so the audience won't notice something else on stage.

Cadillac and other automakers use something similar, a vibrating seat, that pulses when the car veers out of its lane, meant to snap drivers back to attention. Lexus uses a driver monitor that uses flashing lights and warning chimes to regain driver attention, and can brake the car if the driver is completely unaware of what's going on.

"We can use the principles of deception that are used in magic to help make drivers more aware," Pudar said.

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  • 271 Comments
      arfftrnr
      • 2 Years Ago
      Gee another 200.00 charge on my car because some other driver doesn't have the common sense or courtesy to drive the car rather then text messageing. My cure, if I get in an accident with a stupid driver texting or using his cell phone, I am going to sue them for all thier worth plus a couple hundred dollars. Let em know that the can use the text messaging in the bus.
        TTigerLilyx2
        • 2 Years Ago
        @arfftrnr
        Been there, done that. No amount of money can put you back together again when you suffer back or neck injuries. Prevention is the key.
      dkp50
      • 2 Years Ago
      Ah Yes, Lets Come up with More Gadgets to Make as Standard to make us More $, trick! Like we readlly need what we already are forced to buy and pay for? WHo Needs 17" Wheels and Tires on these Compact Cars? And they are not Midsize, they are Compacts Or Outside Power Mirrors? Even Power Seats that you set Once and Forget about it..! And Don't we Really Need 8 -$400 AIRBAGS! when 2 was always enough and proven to be ! And if All that Metal and Steel in the Old Cars is still there? Why Isn't it being Recvyled into being used into the New Cars? And do we really need Tires to do 150 mph? and cost $150 each?
      klemon0320
      • 2 Years Ago
      As long as we have all these high tech systems. Les's allow the system to notify the police when the car is speeding and automatically issue a ticket. In fact, we could develope the system to allow it to access the owners bank account and pay the ticket before you even shut of the car.
        dvp83
        • 2 Years Ago
        @klemon0320
        Now THAT is a great solution, at least for speeding.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @klemon0320
        don't give the government anymore Stupid Idea's. it's bad enough already.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @klemon0320
        Only problem is you have the right to face your accuuser. and that is face to face. I agree tho cancel INS, suspend license. conficate the car it is technically beiing used in a crime. but make the texting and driving as well as duia felony. but you need to make it a standard law in all states because here in SC you can talk and drive.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @klemon0320
        Wow...in this day and age to have people think like you is so dangerous...you want a "system" to determine if your speeding...you want an automatic ticket and the ability for this "system" to sweep money from your account. You're assuming that devices never fail...30 something state have already made red light cameras illegal because of miss use and tampering by the companies that run them to ticket faster and more often...people like you scare me.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @klemon0320
        I luv sarcasm -- but be careful -- there's another article about bullying... Slippery slope, kemon0320! You may want to add that if the funds are not available in your account, the car will 'automatcially' pull itself to the side of the road, door will open, seat ejects you 'safely' (and gently) to the curb, where it will frisk you and put you in handcuffs. And if you get so traumatized that you soil yourself, it will wipe you clean and change your drawers for you.
          • 2 Years Ago
          in other words, use common sense and be responsible behind the wheel. how many phone conversations are truly NECESSARY and SO IMPORTANT. I'm sick of everyones 'immediate gratification'. "Hey man, what r u doing?" "Driving erratically because of your stupid call"
        • 2 Years Ago
        @klemon0320
        oh holy crap! don't give them any more ideas like this.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @klemon0320
        if you are not breaking the law then why worry about it. if you do then u pay the price.
      ivpaul42
      • 2 Years Ago
      In the category of dumb ideas -- freezing out cell phones so they won't work inside a car. Even following the bizarre assumption that the only person in a car using a cell phone is the driver, this would prevent women from calling for directions (you know men never do) or anyone from calling 911 to report an emergency.
        Earl
        • 2 Years Ago
        @ivpaul42
        I agree with you......what happens in an emergency ...ie, someone is being chased, stalked or worse.....and you have to be in your moving car to keep ahead.....what happens? I smell law suits....
        • 2 Years Ago
        @ivpaul42
        I'm not against anyone using a cellphone to make a voice call or listen to to or send/receive text messages--only the ones who perform these activities (if they are the driver) while driving. Incidentally, some men actually DO call for directions--not just women--but the number of either sex who do so is diminishing in this day of almost-universal GPS. Finally, if a driver has an emergency to report, LET HIM/HER PULL OVER TO THE SIDE OF THE ROAD, STOP THE CAR AND THEN MAKE THE CALL. I don'tthink this is asking too much, do you?
      Bob
      • 2 Years Ago
      I think hands free voice on the phone in the car would be no worse than eating, drinking,playing with the radio, or a conversation with other people in the car. Maybe we could block only text and data. Blocking the phone completely could be harmful in emergency situations. Why block all phone use, how about a passenger in the back seat, they should be able to use the phone for just about anything that did not distract the driver.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Bob
        why not make it so only 911 can be used in front seat.
      Jerry
      • 2 Years Ago
      Most calls can wait that's why you have voice mail look ehere your going
      gary
      • 2 Years Ago
      turn off the phones when the car starts !! what did we do just a few years ago when there was no phones. if it is that important people will pull over to use them. and 911 can always be used but if your having a heart attack do you really think your thinking of calling 911! let those people that cann't chew gum without their phones learm to do without it and see how peacefull and quite it can be.
      • 2 Years Ago
      How I wish the lane change vibration was in effect now or the ability to shut down a cell phone. Our son was on his motorcycle and at a complete stop waiting to turn left into a driveway. A distracted (to say it politely) driver who was looking at his cell phone drifted out of his lane and directly into our son and his passenger. There was no attempt to brake at all...he just plowed right into then. Our son has now been in the hospital for 2 months with traumatic brain injuries and other physical injuries. His passenger sustained a broken pelvis and compound fractured leg. Neither of their lives will ever be the same. The kid who hit them has nothing but a $200 fine which he hasn't showed up to pay yet. Everyone please listen, do not operate your cell phone while driving. No one is beyond making very serious mistakes.
        albert
        • 2 Years Ago
        I totally agree with you. A distracted driver slammed into the rear of our car on a 2 lane highway with a traffic light. He hit us going full speed...55mph. It totaled our car, but thankfully neither of us had more than a mild case of whiplash. I think they should outlaw ALL use of cellular devices while operating a vehicle. They need to change the way we think about communicating while behind the wheel of a car. I think they should have a device in the car that transmits a signal that blocks all signals in the car, unless the key is in the off position. I do not even use a cell device while in my car and have not missed any calls. Well there have been times I did not pick up some milk or bread on the way home, but I do not think that errand is worth mine or anyone elses life.
      ctslair
      • 2 Years Ago
      Block cell phone use in a car use except for 911 calls; easy enough to do with the right software. Some of these comments demonstrate that some folks think they HAVE to be able to talk to anybody anywhere anytime, no matter what they're supposed to be doing (Like driving the damn car without killing somebody in the process.) People driving around oblivious to traffic just so they can ask what u doing? is moronic but they aren't going to stop unless they're made to stop.
      kathleen.haxton
      • 2 Years Ago
      Why is it, that instead of making poeple more responsible for their actions by stiffer punishments for breaking the law, we shift it off to the vehicle........."oh, it was the car's fault I hit that kid, my cell phone wasn't supposed to work in the car!!" I'm 71, never had a wreck, never play the radio or tape in my old are and I still look over my shoulder in the blind spot...........I drive like everyone else is an unpredictable idiot in a seaside resort town.....because most of them are!!
        natalie
        • 2 Years Ago
        @kathleen.haxton
        KATHLEEN yes, the "car makers" are just as guilty. their electronic gadgets should NOT enable anyone to talk while they are driving..... any idiot knows that talking is distracting and distracts from the real responsibility of driving.... you cannot carry on any sort of real conversation and be a defensive driver too..... i say force the car makers to despense with ease of talking, and stiff huge fines for people who cell talk or text (yes even if your celling via your car's talk set up you are still CELLING)... sometimes i wonder where these people were when God handed out brains.... they are extremely selfish and don't care about other's safety.... not to mention their own.....
        nuttberry
        • 2 Years Ago
        @kathleen.haxton
        I agree, but sadly, that's life. You've got to catch the people using cellphones. That's obviously not working for many reasons. If people don't have the common sense to stop this on their own then I'm all for the car makers trying to do something. If it stops an innocent person from being involved in an accident caused by drivers using their phones, then go for it.
          natalie
          • 2 Years Ago
          @nuttberry
          KATHLEEN everyone, EVERYONE should be responsible enough, and care enough about other peoples safety, to report them for cell use as soon as possible... take a pic with the dang cell phone, document the date and time, and place, then when you are safe, report them... think of the thousands of lives you could save! i don't care what selfish people think, if they are that ignorant, and put us in danger, they need to be OFF the streets period....
      jetdogy
      • 2 Years Ago
      * I would rather they make a slapping device. If the car senses that the driver is "texting", a mechanical hand would pop out and slap the heck out of the stunad. "Volvo is testing a system that would track driver eye movements. If the car senses that the driver isn't looking at the road, it will flash a series of lights on the dashboard, near the windshield, getting the driver's focus back on the road."
      ctslair
      • 2 Years Ago
      Block cell phone use in a car use except for 911 calls; easy enough to do with the right software. Some of these comments demonstrate that some folks think they HAVE to be able to talk to anybody anywhere anytime, no matter what they're supposed to be doing (Like driving the damn car without killing somebody in the process.) People driving around oblivious to traffic just so they can ask what u doing? is moronic but they aren't going to stop unless they're made to stop.
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