Design Solutions for Distracted Driving

A columnist explores how to create an environment that encourages focused, safe driving.

1 minute read

April 12, 2018, 6:00 AM PDT

By Elana Eden

Eating and Driving

Kritsada Namborisut / Shutterstock

Want to reduce distracted driving? Think outside the textalyzer, researchers say.

Scott Sturgis, auto columnist for The Philadelphia Inquirer, spoke to traffic safety experts about what takes drivers' focus off the road—and found that it goes far beyond phone use. Car design and the built environment can create—or help prevent—disruptions to attention.

Of course, individuals aren't off the hook for how they drive; "personal responsibility" is on Sturgis's list of solutions. To address it, national agencies are working on campaigns to influence social norms and taboos.

But environmental factors also play a role, according to Sturgis's research. Here are other things to consider in attempts to reduce distracted driving.

  • Engaging roadway design: A clear example is the use of roundabouts, which require drivers to stay alert for other cars without being stopped at a traffic signal.
  • Intuitive vehicle design: Cars themselves can create distractions for the drivers in them. This applies to safety controls, like automatic braking and lane-departure warnings, as much as it does to stereo and A/C systems.
  • App design: "There's real potential to effect change…on the mobile side," Sturgis writes. Some smartphone apps are seeking to gamify good driving—turning phoneless driving into a competition. Others are studying ways to provide real-time feedback on risky road behavior.

Thursday, April 5, 2018 in The Philadelphia Inquirer

Ornate, tan stone capitol building with a gold dome roof and low-rise city buildings in the background.

States Are Banning Guaranteed Income Programs

Four states now have laws in place that prevent cities and counties from creating or continuing guaranteed income programs, and several more have tried or are trying.

May 23, 2024 - Bloomberg CityLab

Aerial view of Oceanwide Plaza skyscrapers covered with graffiti tags.

LA’s Abandoned Towers Loom as a “$1.2 Billion Ruin of Global Capital”

Oceanwide Plaza, shuttered mid-construction after its developer filed for bankruptcy, has stood vacant on prime Los Angeles real estate since 2019.

May 21, 2024 - The Architect's Newspaper

Close-up of electric stove range with front burners red-hot.

California Cities Suspend Natural Gas Bans Following Court Ruling

A Ninth Circuit court ruling forced Berkeley to reverse its ban on natural gas in new buildings, prompting other cities to suspend their own efforts to promote all-electric buildings.

May 28, 2024 - East Bay Times

Aerial view of downtown Auburn, Indiana on a clear, sunny day.

Study: Indiana Regional Planning Project Pays Off

The Regional Cities Initiative funded economic development projects and capacity building to help local agencies collaborate more effectively to promote growth.

58 minutes ago - Ball State University

Colorful vacant, boarded-up two-story rowhouses in East Baltimore, Maryland.

States Move to Limit ‘Squatters’ Rights’

A wave of new legislation targets people who reside illegally in properties they don’t own.

1 hour ago - Smart Cities Dive

BART heavy rail train on elevated track pulling into Concord, CA station with cloudy sky and trees in background.

Bay Area Transit Projects Awarded $18 Million

The funding supports eight ‘near-term’ projects slated for completion within the next one to three years.

May 29 - Contra Costa Herald

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.