We live in a world where not having the ability to communicate instantly with others or access the internet is the exception, not the rule. This has significant implications for transportation now and as technologies like autonomous vehicles continue to develop.
The always-on nature of smartphones, internet-enabled vehicle interfaces, and other technologies make it easy to be distracted from focusing on the road while driving. Each year, distracted driving is a factor in 1 in 4 crashes in Minnesota resulting in at least 70 deaths and 350 serious injuries.1 It is likely that these numbers are vastly underreported due to the difficulty in determining distraction as a factor in crashes.
Multitasking During Travel
Improvements in mobile technology have increased the range of activities that people can engage in when traveling away from home. Airport waiting areas, public transit vehicles, and the back seats of cars are filled with people using electronic devices.2 The increasing use of telecommunications devices while traveling tends to lead people to see travel time as being more useful or enjoyable, and might increase people’s willingness to travel longer distances.3 The impact of mobile technologies on how people spend their travel time are likely dependent on the age and socioeconomic status of a person, in addition to trip distance, duration, the space available to complete activities, and vehicle preferences.