Monday, June 30, 2008

Hands Off - it's the law!

Beginning this week drivers in California and Washington join those in a list of other states who can't use their cell phones while driving to talk or send text messages unless they're using them in a hands free mode. In my home state of Washington, drivers who read and compose text messages or talk on a cell phone without a hands-free device could face a $101 ticket. The text-messaging ban took effect Jan. 1; the cell-phone law will be enforced starting in July 1st. Drivers are exempt in some situations, including emergencies, and neither offense will be enough to get a driver pulled over by the police.

Several of my clients who still have complex DTMF applications in service with high cell phone caller populatations which require lots of DTMF entry are moving rapidly to migrate those applications to speech recogntion based self-service to avoid any potential liability issues and to make sure that the applications remain available during the periods when callers actually want to use them, namely while driving or otherwise in transit.

A stunning 80 percent of mobile phone owners talk while driving, according to a recent survey by the Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company. It's a major distraction—some have even equated using a cell phone behind the wheel with driving under the influence, since reaction times can be slowed during a call.

According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, there are 115 road fatalities each day in the United States and distracted driving causes 80 percent of road accidents.

I've been making the recommendation to my clients that these facts alone justify the move from DTMF to speech recognition based functionality for any self service application with modest to high cellular caller populations and more than the simplest of input requirements.

I'm curious if anyone else is seeing this move to hands free cellular use as much of a driver for moving DTMF applications to speech recognition based self service or if anyone else has had the issue of liability raised.

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