Digital Tool for Reporting Hate Crimes 

Please have a look at this article I am posting in its entirety.  Unfortunately, hate crimes seem to be on the rise, but fortunately we now are able to report their occurrence more accurately, and share information about them in a more timely manner.  An innovative and powerful example of how “technology can scale access to knowledg

For victims of hate crimes, the struggle for justice is often along one.

Many victims never find justice, experts say, because they don’t know where — or how — to seek it out. A substantial number may not even be sure they’ve been the victims of legitimate hate crimes, or they’re too ashamed or nervous to contact law enforcement, so they choose to remain quiet instead of seeking assistance, experts say“The data reveals that about 80 percent of Americans who want access to legal information or services can’t get it,” said Nicole L. Bradick, a former civil rights lawyer in Maine. “On the one hand, that’s because people believe the cost is too high. On the other, that’s because taking steps to advocate for yourself in the justice world are seen as big, scary steps.”

In some ways, they’re right, said Bradick, who is the chief strategy officer for CuroLegal, an organization that aims to improve legal access via technology. Depending on the nature of the incident and where it occurred, reporting a hate crime can involve multiple organizations — some public, some private and some overlapping — and the process can vary depending on state laws. The how-to information is out there, Bradick said, but it exists in isolated pockets around the Web.

To simplify what can be an incredibly confusing process, Bradick and a team from Cisco Systems and the American Bar Association’s Center for Innovation unveiled a digital tool last week to help streamline parts of the reporting process by turning them into an easy-to-use Web application. The name: Hatecrimehelp.com.

The service, which is free, uses a format similar to “Mad Libs” in which users fill out a paragraph by choosing from words describing their incident, which can include terms such as verbal hate, property damage, violence or harassment.

The form allows users to add the location of the alleged crime, their Zip code and what they think motivated the incident — ethnicity, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation or immigration status, for example.

Once the form is completed, the page offers the names and contact information of local nonprofits organizations and government resources for hate crime reporting, as well as a feature that explains “what to expect” from each organization.

The site also explains the difference between a hate crime and a “bias incident,” and offers a side-by-side look at a state’s law vs. federal law.

“We wanted to create technology that would present the law in digestible ways,” Bradick said, noting that the designers put themselves in the shoes of a hate crime victim and spent months doing Google searches to better understand the challenges victims face online.

“Almost everybody has a smartphone and can pull up this information on a browser from anywhere. We’re huge believers in the idea that technology can scale access to knowledge.”

Bradick said the page was prompted by the spike in hate crimes since last year’s presidential election, an increase that has been documented by academics, politicians and experts at organizations such as the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The FBI reports that there were more than 5,800 hate crime incidents involving about 7,100 victims in 2015, the most recent year that statistics were available.

As The Washington Post’s Janell Ross reported last week, another division of the Justice Department that uses a survey to ask Americans directly about whether they’ve been victims of hate crimes paints a vastly different picture of hate:

“Each year, the results are quite different than the landscape of crime delineated in the FBI’s report,” Ross writes. “Between 2004 and 2015, people living in the United States reported experiencing an average of 250,000 hate crimes each year, according to a report released by the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of Justice Statistics in June. In the last five years of that period, nearly half of the hate crimes — 48 percent — self-reported by victims were “motivated by racial bias” and 90 percent involved violence, according to the DOJ report.”

To address underreporting, Bradick said her team plans to do user testing to make sure their site is as easy to use as possible.

“When it comes to the law, we don’t make it very easy for people to avoid feeling overwhelmed and to protect themselves or take advantage of the protections the law provides them,” she said. “Hopefully, we can begin to change that.”  (Holley, Washington Post, 10/9/1)

Ray Myers

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Some Parental Advice from Melinda Gates

Melinda Gates does not presume to be a professional parenting expert. But she does have some thoughts to share based on her own personal experience as a mother who happens to be married to Microsoft’s founder. They are primarily reflections on her own parenting experience and what she might have done differently. Her over-riding concern is that parents should decide for themselves what works for their family, but adds that “I probably would have waited longer before putting a computer in my daughters’ pockets.”

“Phones and apps aren’t good or bad by themselves, but for adolescents who don’t yet have the emotional tools to navigate life’s complications and confusions, they can exacerbate the difficulties of growing up: learning to be kind, coping with feeling of exclusion, taking advantage of freedom while exercising self-control. It’s more important than ever to teach empathy from the very beginning, because our kids are going to need it.” One online resource that she mentions is Common Sense Media (commonsensemedia.org) which advises families on how media can best be adapted to support more shared life experiences. For example, “One of my favorite things you can do is plan a ‘device-free dinner.’ It’s not complicated. It’s exactly what it says: an hour around a table without anything that has an on or off switch . . . (with) the promise of an amazing conversation.” 

Well, maybe they won’t all be “amazing conversations,” but at least we can increase the odds of having some. And Melinda Gates also believes that in learning to better listen and talk with each other, we may all develop a deeper sense of empathy for one another. I agree, and I don’t think you will find an “app” for that yet?

Ray Myers

Nose in Books, Eyes on the Screen

So what’s really wrong with walking around with your eyes on your mobile phones while passerbys navigate their way around you?  More dangerous is the practice of driving while texting in terms of disregard for your own safety and that of others.  In the past the only similar practice I can recall that was seen as more of an anti-social behavior than a hazard to your own safety and others was keeping your “nose in a book.”  But I don’t recall seeing many people driving while reading an old-fashioned “hardbound” or paperback text.  At least I don’t think there were many car collisions attributed to people reading paperbacks while driving.

More disconcerting or hazardous (at least to me) are the anti-social implications of keeping your head down at social gatherings and not meeting or conversing with old friends and new acquaintances.  Being online there are always friends and family you can chose to be connected with and never be “out of touch.”  While you may chose to never have your head “in the clouds” again, you may also find yourself trapped in the world of social media to the detriment of having a real time “social life.”  I know I am portraying the extremes of a social media obsession, and that my observations are not scientifically based, but please take a look at your own social media life.  There may also be a generational gap here, and a personal preference for what constitutes a broader social life.  It still remains your own personal choice in terms of what “worlds” we chose to habitate and to what degree.

So now let’s look up and smell and see the roses!

Ray Myers


Please Pack Me, I’m Busy

No more tiresome packing chores.  All you need is a friendly app on your favorite device, and off you go.  Let’s just call it an online concierge service and, oh yes, you will need to pay.  This payment will cover the costs of having your traveling wardrobe stored somewhere where you can just send a short text to let your packers know that you are ready to travel.  Costs will vary across different service providers, but one example are the rates charged by one company, DUFL.  It costs $99 per round trip, plus $9.95 a month for storage.

Instead of packing your own suitcase, travelers can rely on companies such as DUFL which started in 2015 and now has warehouses in three cities and 30 employees who clean, press and pack their customers’ clothes and toiletries for them.  When a trip is approaching, customers use DUFL’s website or app to select items from their personal closet in DUFL’s cavernous warehouse. (Photographs of every piece of clothing are uploaded.).   DUFL then launders or dry cleans the clothes and packs them in a  way that reminds customers of a shopping spree.  And not to worry, FedEx will deliver the bags to your home.

What a convenience and time saver for the busy business traveler!   All it takes is the right wardrobe and a little expendable income.

Ray Myers


The Strong Silent Type – Even When Texting or Not?

Okay men, maybe it’s time to break some of those old male stereotypes in the digital age of the twenty first century.  Some women, you know who you are, may say it is a hopeless cause.  All men really want is someone to listen to them and go easy on the advice.  It seems like the most preferred female response is a simple, “Mm hmmm.”  But now that we are in the digital age, men may finally find that they can open up more freely through texting and other social media, expressing their most innermost thoughts.  Well, as they say, “good luck with that.”  Even in the case of the youngest social media users, sex may be be the key determinant in how they choose to express themselves (or not) online.

I am not sure that this online behavior has been scientifically documented, but there seems to be plenty of anecdotal data to suggest some behavioral differences in this regard.  Here is one writer’s experience:  “A few months ago . . . my nephew, now seven years old, got his first cellphone.  There was his number on our family group text, a long message chain that my sisters and I use as a place to deposit our complaints about the day and his puns.  So far, his contributions have been a string of plane and car emojis.  Excited though, to have this new way to talk to him, I sent him a message.  I saw the flickering bubbles that showed he was typing back.  Then nothing.  For the next twelve hours, his side of the conversation was blank.  Finally, a day later, a single response:  ‘Hey.'”

In defense of our seven year old “brother,” it may just be overwhelming to keep up with older aunts whether they are conversing online or in person.  Be strong, young man!  Maybe not so silent.

Ray Myers

Corralling the Social Media Market

Do you ever think of social media as a business that has to be regulated in order to ensure fair competition in this marketing space.  In the period of ten years we have gone from a time when the American marketplace was dominated by  companies such as Exxon Mobil, General Electric, Microsoft, Citigroup and Bank of America to a new era of technology companies replacing them in the size of their market caps.  Microsoft remains in the middle of this group at #3, but is now joined by its largest tech competitors: Apple (1), Alphabet (2, Google parent company), Amazon (4), and Facebook (5).    We may eventually have to regulate these tech giants if they are determined to truly be monopolies that limit competition by smaller tech businesses in this space.

“We are going to have to decide fairly soon whether Google, Facebook and Amazon are the kinds of natural monopolies that need to be regulated, or whether we allow the status quo to continue, pretending that unfettered monoliths don’t inflict damage on our privacy and democracy.  It is impossible to deny that Facebook, Google and Amazon have stymied innovation on a broad scale. To begin with, the platforms of Google and Facebook are the point of access to all media for the majority of Americans.  While profits at Google, Facebook and Amazon have soared, revenues in media businesses like newspaper publishing or the music business have, since 2001, fallen by 70 percent.”   So most Americans can now “proudly” say that they only know what they see on their computer screens (of varying sizes).  Maybe this is really how all those fake news stories began?

Fewer newspaper readers, but more “screen” readers.  Let’s face it, our social media markets are like the Wild West of the Digital Age.  Maybe we do need a few Marshall Dillons to protect all of us law-abiding citizens (anyone remember Gunsmoke?).

Ray Myers


Technology Alters Shopping Habits

Tell me about it!  Unfortunately, my wife is a small business owner who has suffered through this business reality.  Consumers now have the edge in dominating the traditional retail market in their ability to make the best purchasing decisions.  They easily can compare product quality and prices with the devices they hold in the palms of their hands. Technology has made it so.  At the same time, general merchandise stores are “shedding” retail jobs since today’s consumers obviously need less customer service in making their purchasing decisions.  You can find all of the needed information online.  Just consider that general merchandise stores shed  34,700 jobs in March alone.

“E-commerce and technology have absolutely changed the rules of the game and given massive amounts of power to the consumer.  There is a self-help mentality now.  People walk around with their phones in their hand to tell them the best model and the best price.  You don’t need as many people walking around trying to convince you to by a sweater.”  Or almost anything else you might need.”  So in a sense, consumers are now skipping the “middle man or woman.”  It’s just you and your technology that can help in making your purchasing decisions.  Something’s lost, but something’s gained?  You have become your own best “personal shopper,” with a little help from your own technological devices and prowess.

Or maybe it’s all about consuming different things differently.  One E-commerce expert recently noted that “there has been a shift in consumer spending from things to experiences, that’s why restaurants are doing so well.”

Ray Myers


iPhones in China – Oh My!

Maybe mobile phones will finally bring the dawning on the new Age of Aquarius.  We used to think that transcendental meditation would do that for all of us, but the answer may be literally in the palm of our hands.  Who would have ever thought that Communist China would now be opening its economic doors and welcoming America’s iPhones to compete in their domestic marketplace.  I guess we can all thank the Beijing Intellectual Property Court for revoking a ban that prohibited such sales.  LET THE SUNSHINE IN!

The Beijing Intellectual Property Court ruled that the regulator, the Beijing Intellectual Property Office, had not properly followed procedures in ordering the ban while there was no sufficient proof to claim that the designs constituted a violation of intellectual property rights.  Those required procedures will get you every time.  I guess we all have to wait until a legal battle between some high-powered attorneys from both sides settles this issue in court.  But I am not sure how this all happens in China when, in this case, the government’ s Intellectual Property Court has ruled that its own government’s Intellectual Property Office had “not properly followed procedures”?

Soon there will be Apple Stores all over China, and there may even be some stores selling iPhone copies.  Just a guess on my part. )

Ray Myers

Presidential Multi-tasking and Making Choices

I guess job interviews are not what they used to be.  In the age of Trump, it seems that potential employers are more preoccupied with checking news, “important messages,” tweeting, etc., than really focusing on job candidates who are interested in making a favorable impression.  Or maybe it really works both ways?   Do you really want to work for someone who is too preoccupied with their own online messaging than finding out more about candidates who might be selected as Cabinet appointees in his administration.  Let’s just say I think that we now have a “so-called President” who is more interested in letting us know all about his opinions on everything than really focusing on the politics of governing.  

My humble political advice is that not everyone really cares what “Trump thinks” about everything.  Welcome to Washington!  Everyone wants to make a name for themselves, or even a bigger name of they are a President.  But our current White House occupant obviously feels that what he has to say (or tweet) is the most important of all.  And he feels it can all be said in 140 characters or less.  What an absurd and simplistic notion – “I tweet, therefore I am.”  Can someone please call a halt to this obsessive behavior before we fall into some catastrophic conflict with another world “tweeter.”
Please don’t get me wrong.  I am really a fan of social media, but it must be used responsibly, as we all have probably been told many times over our lifetimes about many things.  Even if you live in the White House (when you are not in Mar-a-Lago) 

Ray Myers



War on Drugs – Buy a Smartphone

It has now been reported that American teenagers are growing less likely to try or regularly use drugs, including alcohol.  So what is the cause of this dramatic change in teenagers’ behavioral (experimental) habits?  Are teenagers replacing drugs with smartphones?  Experts see an interesting correlation.  Researchers are starting to ponder an intriguing question: Are teenagers using drugs less in part because they are constantly stimulated and entertained by their computers and phones?

Researchers are saying that “With minor fits and starts, the trend has been building for a decade, with no clear understanding as to why.  Some experts theorize that cigarette-smoking rates are cutting into a key gateway to drugs, or that anti drug education campaigns, long a largely failed enterprise, have finally taken hold.”  Scientists also say that interactive media appears to play to similar impulses as drug experimentation, including sensation-seeking and the desire for independence.  Or it might be that gadgets simply absorb a lot of time that could be used for other pursuits, including partying?

So many gadgets, so little time to do everything else, whatever that might be?  Perhaps the most intriguing phenomenon is that we have so many addictions to choose from, if we really have nothing else we want or need to do?

Ray Myers

P. S.

I will not be posting a blog on Friday, Saint Patrick’s Day.  I know you will all be too busy commemorating this “holy day.”  Thanks for following TechtoExpress.  Back on Monday, March 20.

Social Media as an Addiction

I am not really talking about “so-called” President Trump here, but his use of Twitter seems to come close to this type of diagnosis.  Many prominent social psychologists are studying this digital phenomenon.  I’ll let them decide what advice is best for the current resident of the White House.  Adam Alter, author of “The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked” warns that many of us – youngsters, teenagers, adults – are addicted to modern digital products.  

“The technology is designed to hook us that way.  Email is bottomless.  Social media platforms are endless.  Twitter?  The feed never really ends.  You could sit there 24 hours a day and  you’ll never get to the end.  And so you come back for more and more . . . There should be times of the day where it looks like the 1950s or where you are sitting in a room and you can’t tell what era you are in.  You shouldn’t always be looking at screens.”  And now so many devices are portable that you literally have to put them out of reach if you want some “down time.”

It’s even getting harder now to walk down the street without having to avoid someone with a digital device in hand.  It’s even more dangerous on the highways where your fellow drivers’ eyes are focused on their digital screens and not the road!

Ray Myers

Face-to-Face, not Facetime

I used to like going to meetings in our government office (well, most of the time), but I am not sure I would feel the same way today.  To be honest, the best part may have been the donuts and/or other pastries that would appear in the center of the table.  I also gained a few pounds over those years, but those culinary incentives usually assured that most staff would attend, usually with a freshly brewed cup of coffee in hand (those were also the pre-Starbucks days).  They really were old-fashioned meetings with all their open and hidden agendas on display.  You really got to know and/or distrust certain colleagues pretty quickly.

The abundance of all our technological tools has changed all that.  “Meetings?  Ha!  Who has the time?  An article in the British Psychology Society’s Research Digest said a third of all meetings are unproductive, costing companies $37 billion a year (Washington Post, 2/13/17).”  And even when you go to these meetings most attendees are usually distracted with their heads down, looking at their smartphones.  That’s if you even bother to attend.  If you are not at the meeting’s location, just “dial in” from wherever you are: watch on your computer or just listen on your phone.  There seem to an increasing number of partially occupied conference rooms in government buildings where scheduled  meetings are held.  I think coffee may still be a mainstay at these meetings, but I am not sure if you can multitask while eating a donut, and keep up with all that’s going on.

John Kelly, who authored the article in the Washington Post quoted above, wonders if our ability to multitask during meetings has just spawned more meetings.  “Someone should probably schedule a meeting to discuss that.”

Ray Myers

Baby, You Can Drive My Car. Or Not.

Remember the old “Yellow Pages” ad when you were encouraged to let your fingers do the walking.  Now it seems that you may be letting your fingers do the driving.  Autonomous driving, electric cars and ride-hailing apps from Silicon Valley, like Uber, are reshaping transportation.  Young people no longer feel as compelled as previous generations to own cars.  Experts in the transportation sector are changing rapidly.  The whole “mobility market” – transportation as a service – is just at the beginning.

In Germany, under an initiative called Industry 4.0, they are striving to help the country thrive in a smartphone world. The future of Germany as an industrial nation depends on how companies succeed in bringing the manufacturing and digital worlds together.  Industry executives there often cite how Apple’s iPhone quickly erased Nokia’s once-dominant position in the mobile handset market, and they are determined not to let something similar to happen to them.  Google is also entering the driverless car market.  Their market value is more than double that of BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen combined.   So instead of owning and driving your own car, you may soon find that your smartphone could be the best means of “ride-hailing” you have.   It will enable you to chose the most convenient means of vehicular travel available to you at any given place and time.

But I wouldn’t get rid of your new BMW, Mercedes, or Volkswagen quite yet.  Maybe you can become a ride service  provider yourself.  You can let your passengers work/play on their iPhones while you enjoy the ride.  That may even be more fun.

Ray Myers

Socializing on Social Media – Adults Only?

So you thought that social media was strictly for the young.  According to a recent Nielson report that’s not the case.  Americans from 18 to 34 are less obsessed with social media than some of their older peers are.  The finding underscores how ubiquitous the smartphone has become.  In the United States, 97 percent of people 18 to 34, and 94 percent of people 35 to 49, had access to smartphones.  Seventy-seven percent of those 50 and older used smartphones, the report found.  I will let you decide which group you are in, and if having one has really made you any smarter?

Some more data from Nielson that might help you compare your use of social media across different age groups.  Adults 35 to 41 were found to spend an average of 6 hours 58 minutes a week on social media networks, compared with 6 hours 19 minutes for the younger group, 18 to 34.  More predictably, adults 50 and over spent significantly less time on the networks: an average of 4 hours 9 minutes a week.  I guess some of the older folks (you know who you are) still like to learn new tricks, and perhaps some of the others simply prefer their old social networks that are not technology-dependent.

One conclusion offered by Nielson is that social media is not exclusively “owned by the younger generation.”  It is being accessed by a wide variety of Americans, but is this truly making us all more social?

Ray Myers

Breaking the Glass Ceiling in Tech Companies’ Boardrooms

My last post before the holidays in December talked about breaking the “glass ceiling” at the Vatican. One very talented woman, Barbara Jatta, was able to do that as the first woman to lead the Office of Vatican Museums in Rome. So even as male dominance gives way to gender equality in the administration of the Roman Catholic Church’s activities, California’s Silicon Valley is now recognizing that they also have to close the diversity gap in their governing Boards. Let’s face it, women, at least in the U.S., are probably the most active users of technology in their daily lives (may not be scientifically proven, but try to take away the digital tools that women use everyday). Just think of the effects of online shopping that have made many shopping malls “ghost towns” since the arrival of anytime, anywhere shopping on your computer or in the palm of you hand.

Why not invite more women into these tech company boardrooms? While Twitter and other tech companies have taken steps to add more women to their boards, the tech industry still lacks others in gender diversity. Among Silicon Valley’s 150 largest companies, only 15 percent of board seats were filled by women in 2016, compared with 21 percent for the companies in the Standard and Poor’s 500 Index, according to the research firm Equilat. Boardrooms are a particular focus because they are power centers that can help spur broader changes. And more positive change, I believe, can probably be more enhanced with more women having a seats at the tech board room tables.

Likewise, more women on the governing bodies of the Roman Catholic Church will more likely bring more positive changes in the Church’s policies around the world. I guess you can also pray that progress will continue in these tech boardroom practices, but putting talented women in more powerful tech company positions sounds like a good business practice to me. I think they are ready!

Ray Myers

Audio-enhanced Print – Talking Books Around the World

“I cannot give you any idea of what these Talking Books mean to those of us who cannot read ordinary print.”  This unsolicited testimonial was sent to the American Federation for the Blind after one of its members began to first listen to recordings of printed book editions.  It was then a new technologocal innovation in the 1930s, but technological advances over the last century, and into the twenty-first, have now made almost any printed document accessible to individuals with print disabilities.  These technological advances have also made these printed materials available in  a multitude of languages that give it a global outreach.

The United States Department of Education (ED) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) have been in the forefront of these efforts.  Bookshare.org is funded by the Office of Special Education in ED, and has been a leader in this area for many years, and is now increasing its outreach around the world.  AllChildrenReading.org is funded by USAID and is now supporting projects that include enhanced programs for children with print disabilities.  Both of these programs utilize technologies that are most readily available in the areas where the children live.  Mobile  technologies play an increasingly important part in these efforts, particularly in the more remote corners of the globe.

Please visit the websites for these programs identified above.  I had the opportunity to be involved in a small way in the development and growth of these projects during my years of federal service.

Ray Myers

Let’s All Meditate – There’s an App for That!

Maybe I just didn’t try hard enough, but when I did try to meditate during my Peace Corps training days (headed to India, of course) I feel asleep.  Is that a form of meditation?  It was near dawn, lying in an open field in the hills of Vermont, when I began to relax (meditate?) so much that my body succumbed to a deep inner peace of sleep.  But now I know that you really don’t need those bucolic surroundings when all you need is the ability to download one of those handy apps on your mobile phone.  No more need to sync with the workings of the universe as the sun rises and sets around the world. 

You can find inner peace in the palm of your hand.  Okay, if you are really interested, here is one company’s (Headspace) sales pitch:  “By instructing people to focus their breathing and letting go of thoughts and emotions, users will be coaxed back to fuller engagement with the present moment.  In modern parlance, it is mindfulness – a quick, seculuarized adaptation of Buddhist teachings that have been distilled for a modern, Western audience.  A 10-day course on the app is free.  Annual subscriptions cost about $100.”

Please know that I am not promoting or advertising this app for “mindfulness.”  But let’s be honest.  You can find most almost anything you want on the web today.  Even inner peace?

Ray Myers

More Than Technology Needed

Sometimes our desire to find the technological solution(s) to our problems exceeds the reality of what technology really can do.  Let’s go back to Africa where I spent some time earlier this month.  Park rangers in Kenya, as well as other African countries, play a critical role in preventing poaching (killing for sport or profit) of endangered species living on these governmental preserves.  Sometimes, however, investments in high-tech solutions get in the way of needed financial support for the manpower needed to patrol and protect the endangered animals living on these lands.

Despite the critical role that rangers play in the poaching crisis, conservation organizations tend to overlook the need for everyday resources.  Donors outside of Africa want to see sexy, high-tech solutions like drones and ground sensors and not hear about the need for warm clothing, boots and better food for rangers.  Large nongovernmental groups spend huge amounts, yet there are rangers needing socks.  “Our rangers were herders, but now they’re effectively soldiers,” said David Powrie, a preserve game warden.  And the enemy are the poachers who have been known to attack and kill the rangers.

When rangers are well taken care of and receive appropriate training, poaching rates tend to drop.  Technology can certainly help, but it is still only a tool that has to be used wisely in the hands of well-trained and financially supported rangers.

Ray Myers



Multi-Tasking Behind the Wheel

Or as Deborah Hersman put it: “It’s the cognitive workload on your brain that’s the problem.” Hersman, president of the nonprofit National Safety Council and a former chairwoman of the federal National Transportation Safety Board, said it was not clear how much those various technologies (hands-free) reduced distraction — or, instead, encouraged people to use even more functions on their phones while driving.  And freeing the drivers’ hands does not necessarily clear their heads.”

After steady declines over the last four decades, highway fatalities last year recorded the largest annual percentage increase in 50 years. And the numbers so far this year are even worse. In the first six months of 2016, highway deaths jumped 10.4 percent, to 17,775, from the comparable period of 2015, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This cognitive workload “overload” is not a safe way to drive.   I have trouble listening to the radio and not being distracted when I’m behind the wheel.  And, of course, with my wife in the car, I also have a reliable “co-pilot.”

Please drive safely over this holiday weekend.  It may even be a good time to turn off your “cruise-control?”

Ray Myers