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INTELLITURN Does Double Duty: Not only Accurately Controlling Turn Signal Turn-on and Shut-off for the Driver, but Bringing Forth a Real Solution to the Growing Problem of Distracted Driving

Distracted driving has emerged as one of the primary causes in vehicle crashes.  The problem is real and it is big, and it is not going away according to the Detroit Free Press:  A U. S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration & Virginia Tech 2006 study shows that distractions and sleepiness have now contribute to nearly 8 out of every 10 crashes.  More specifically, 78 percent of the crashes and 65 percent of the near crashes documented in the study involve driver inattention.  Click here to see results of the NHTSA study.

So how are smart turn signals related to combating distracted driving?  Actually, there is a connection that is quite extraordinary and it is a "thinking outside the box" solution.  If we talk about distracted driving, it really translates to a form of negligent driving.  And what is one of the first things the negligent driver will neglect when distracted?  It's the turn signal. . . it's not used as it should be by the driver.  In this situation, not only is the non-steering hand occupied with a cell phone or a burger, but the mind is occupied as well with the distraction.  With INTELLITURN, there is a turn signal reminder that not only assists chronically neglectful drivers to quickly adopt the safe habit of using the turn signal, but also informs the temporarily distracted driver that their driving behavior is in need of more attention, so the driver's display may show up on the dash as "NEXT TURN USE SIGNAL", but the real message to the driver is "maybe it's time to get off the phone", or "put down that burger", etc.  For the fatigued or sleepy driver, the message is "you may want to pull over and take a break".   Like the canary in the coal mine, it is an early warning that goes a long way to preventing a disaster.  The first obligation of the driver is to drive the vehicle, and INTELLITURN is there to serve the driver in making driving safe and enjoyable at every turn. 

Why INTELLITURN can be so effective in combating distracted driving:  INTELLITURN is not directly designed as a "Distracted Driver Sensor System", but that is what the net effect is.  Effective use of a turn signal requires an elevated state of awareness that is usually lacking in the distracted driver.  The distracted driver lacks a sense of anticipation and situational awareness and that is "measureable" in the effective use of turn signals.  Because INTELLITURN is there to sense vehicle turns and turn signal status, it can never give a false distracted driving alert.  Further, the driver never has to worry if the turn signal is stuck on because remember, this is a turn signal system that takes care of itself, so the potential distraction caused by today's mechanical turn signal is eliminated.  Other design-specific distracted driver alert systems may sense and then alert the driver, but a message to the driver may be received the wrong way by a driver (if he or she does not agree with the "distracted driver" accusation).  While directly sensing and measuring a distracted driver by other means may be impossible 100% of the time because of the subjective nature of the call, INTELLITURN only sends a driver's display based upon an indisputable objective fact, that being an absent turn signal.   Since turn signals are appropriate to be used on average once a mile in normal driving, INTELLITURN is therefore an ever vigilant sentinel for the distracted and drowsy driver.  INTELLITURN is smart enough to account for the occasional missed turn signal and also allows for parking lot maneuvers without presenting an alert to the driver, so its operation is user friendly and is never a nuisance. 

No other in-vehicle distracted driving countermeasure we know of is so effective for such a low cost.   There are three main approaches to solving the problem of distracted driving:  1) Public education of the problem, 2) New laws limiting what can be done while driving, and 3) On-board countermeasure technology. 

Public Service Announcements informing of the dangers of distracted driving or specifically cell phone use or texting are received by most as a message that would be meant "for someone else, but not me".  These messages are well intentioned, but they will likely not change any habits in large numbers.

New laws that would pose new restrictions on, for instance, cell phone use or texting that would require additional enforcement in order to be effective, and not all citizens are in favor of these new laws.  Most drivers are prudent, safe and smart about cell phone use while driving so the abusive acts of some while using cell phones cause a new "big brother" restriction for the majority of the drivers.   Furthermore, there are a limitless number of other potential distractions, such as eating, smoking, personal grooming, drinking, reading, etc. that could potentially create a limitless number of new laws restricting what we can and cannot do.  This will become a never-ending battle once it starts and our laws will always be chasing the next and latest electronic gadget or distraction.

There is no one answer to the problem of distracted driving, but when looking at on-board distracted driving countermeasure technologies, the solutions are few at this time.  Any solution must be cost-effective and accurate and must never become a nuisance to a reasonably prudent driver.  INTELLITURN adds little or no cost to a vehicle, is 100% accurate, and can be fine tuned by the manufacturer as to how often an alert is presented to the driver.  It has a zero chance of falsely accusing a driver of distracted driving, all while effectively alerting the driver of behavior consistent with distracted or drowsy driving, such that he or she can correct the situation well ahead of a real problem.  There are no other known distracted driving systems today that can make that claim. 

When a manufacturer is asked "What are you doing to combat distracted driving?"  Smart Turn Signals is an intelligent first step.



2008 RLP Engineering
Dayton, Ohio, USA