Driving Statistics (US)
The statistics showing accidents in the United States due to distracted driving are alarming.
- A 2014 report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that distracted driving is the cause for 18 percent of injury crashes, and 16 percent of all police-reported motor vehicle traffic crashes.
- For that same year, 3,179 people were killed and an estimated additional 431,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers.
- An estimated 660,000 drivers are using mobile phones or other electronic devices while on the road and the number is steadily on the rise since 2010.
- Ten percent of fatal vehicular accidents involving teenage drivers are due to distracted driving.
- These accidents don’t just involve the occupants of the vehicles as shown by the 520 non-occupants killed by distracted drivers.
Distracted driving as defined by law is “driving while performing any activity which could potentially distract a driver from the primary task of operating a vehicle. In theory, it can be anything that could take a driver’s eyes off the road, or mental concentration away from driving.” It may cover many activities but the main source of distraction for drivers is the use of cell phones or other electronic gadgets. While most states have laws enacted to punish distracted drivers, prevention is always the best approach and this is where text-to-speech technology can have a positive impact.
Text-to-Speech for Accessibility
While the best way to avoid accidents caused by gadget distraction is to stop using mobile phones or electronic devices, this is not possible so the next best thing is hands-free-operation of these devices. Text-to- speech technology is a tool that allows users to receive information without having to take their eyes off the road.
Mobile phones and tablet manufacturers have integrated text-to-speech applications that translate text to the spoken word. Instead of reading, users can listen to incoming messages. They can then reply to their messages by voice texting which uses speech-to-text. Both these mobile solutions will allow drivers to receive and send text messages without being distracted. This will lessen the risks while driving and lead to safer trips.
TTS technology has evolved such that users have a choice of male and female voices in different accents and intonation. The variations in multiple languages make it possible for users to customize their applications thus improving user-experience. The quality of these voices has also improved to a point where it sounds natural. Developers are continually improving the technology so that the voices will use appropriate emphasis on text being spoken to improve comprehension and at the same time,being more pleasant to listen to.
There are still challenges to overcome with TTS but its impact on everyday activities like driving cannot be denied.
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