The good news
Integrated communications networks have evolved faster and more vigorously than the predictions of the boldest forecasters.

By the end of 2014, the number of mobile-connected devices will exceed the number of people on earth, and by 2018, there will be nearly 1.4 mobile devices per capita, predicts Cisco Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update 2013-18. There will be over 10 billion mobile-connected devices by 2018, including machine-to-machine (M2M) modules—exceeding the world’s population at that time (7.6 billion).

Voice/data/video (VDV) is streaming to an incredibly large host of mobile devices. The monthly global mobile data traffic will surpass 15 exabytes by 2018, and the average mobile connection speed will surpass 2 megabits per second (Mbps) by 2016. The proliferation of smartphones will increase, and almost 66 percent of mobile data traffic will come by smartphones by 2018. Tablets will exceed 15 percent of total mobile traffic by 2016. Mobile data traffic will reach the following milestones, and 4G traffic will be more than half of the total mobile traffic by 2018.

In 2012, global annual data center traffic hit 2.6 zettabytes (ZB). That’s 2.6 thousand million million gigabytes (GB), or 2.6 x 1,015 megabytes of data transmission. In the next 24 months, that will increase 250 percent.

In less than five years, we could see data center traffic exceed 15 ZB, which equals 15 thousand million million GB.

The bad news
Distracted driving is a dangerous epidemic on America's roadways, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The number of people killed in distraction-affected crashes decreased slightly from 3,360 in 2011 to 3,328 in 2012. An estimated 421,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver, a 9 percent increase from the estimated 387,000 people injured in 2011.

Today’s numbers are climbing. The statistics for 2013 have not been completed, but the estimated actual numbers are expected to exceed 3,661 killed, 463,100 injured in accidents involving distracted driving.

At any given daylight moment across America, more than 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is a leading voice in the effort to stop texting and cell phone use behind the wheel. Since 2009, the DOT has held two national distracted driving summits, banned texting and cell phone use for commercial drivers, encouraged states to adopt tough laws, and launched several campaigns to raise public awareness about the issue. The efforts are bold, but the problem continues to grow, and both the government and the private sector are scrambling to stop the preventable carnage on our roads.

Distractions while driving can be separated into three distinct groups: visual, manual and cognitive. Visual distraction involves taking one's eyes off the road, while manual distraction involves taking one's hands off the wheel. Cognitive distraction occurs when an individual's focus is not directly on the act of driving and his/her mind "wanders." Distractions influenced by technology, especially text messaging or talking on the phone, can require a combination of visual, manual and cognitive attention from the driver, thus making these types of distractions particularly dangerous.

Most folks have no idea of the current laws on distracted driving in the area that they are operating a motor vehicle. For the most current information on state laws, visit http://www.distraction.gov/content/get-the-facts/state-laws.html. Just click on the state in the map to get the latest laws in force.

Another resource, at www.Distraction.gov, you can learn more about distracted driving. Get the facts, get involved, and help us keep America's roadways safe.

Pull up to any stoplight in any city and look around. You will probably see a host of drivers talking/listening, reading, and texting. New laws have failed to stem the growth of the new trend of communicating while driving (CWD).

You are your employer’s most valuable asset. The way you drive says everything about you and your company. Make a positive statement by following these work-related safe driving practices.

Stay safe
• Use a seat belt at all times (driver and passengers).
• Be well-rested before driving.
• Avoid taking medications that make you drowsy.
• Set a realistic goal for the number of miles that you can drive safely each day.
• If you are impaired by alcohol or any drug, do not drive.

Stay focused
• Driving requires your full attention. Avoid distractions, such as adjusting the radio or other controls, eating or drinking, and talking on the phone.
• Continually search the roadway to be alert to situations requiring quick action.
• Stop about every two hours for a break. Get out of the vehicle to stretch, take a walk, and get refreshed.

Avoid aggressive driving
• Keep your cool in traffic.
• Be patient and courteous to other drivers.
• Do not take other drivers’ actions personally.
• Reduce your stress by planning your route ahead of time (bring the maps and directions), allowing plenty of travel time, and avoiding crowded roadways and busy driving times.

"You are just an accident waiting for a place to happen when you text and drive," said Michelle Shannahan, vice president of operations at Communication Planning Corp., Jacksonville, Fla. “Any competent driving instructor will tell you the same thing. Unfortunately, the highway casualty count continues to rise, while we fail to ban texting while driving. I get very concerned when I see other drivers texting or talking on their smartphones and not paying attention to the traffic."

A Zigby Interactive poll 2007 found 83 percent thought texting while driving should be illegal. But among respondents 18 to 24, the support for a ban dropped to 48 percent. That age group also was most likely to text while driving. Sixty-six percent of them had done so, compared to 16 percent of cell phone users overall. The nationwide poll of 2,246 adults had a margin of error of 2.1 percent.

To many in Generation Y—currently aged 18 to 24—doing those things while driving is a way of life. These drivers routinely say they welcome technological advances, such as voice-activated devices, but not more government regulation.

Some typical reactions to laws and enforcement to improve safety on the highway are uninformed. For example, a ban on texting while driving is a "horrible idea." It takes only a few seconds to read a text message and then shoot back a five-word response. If you don’t text in heavy traffic or bad weather, you will be okay. In contrast, cell phone calls can go on for several minutes, and people also spend more time eating in cars than it takes for a text message.

The potential crackdown also has stimulated research aimed at making technology more driver-friendly. In the car of the future, a driver could keep both hands on the wheel while giving verbal commands to operate communications devices, even dictating e-mails and text messages.

"Within the next decade, your vehicle is going to be as connected to such electronic services as your home or office." said James Carlini, a well known communications consultant and technology visionary “The big question is when will the technology-makers make it safe for the road?."

Ask your employer: What is the company’s position on distracted driving? If they do not have a written policy for safe driving practices, you should request the immediate adoption of a safe driving policy with a focus on distracted driving.