Infotainment Systems are Driver Distractions

This blog discusses how the proliferation of voice-controlled infotainment systems while driving has led to AAA calling for use limits. The dangers of distracted driving have evolved to using in-vehicle infotainment systems that allow drivers to text, surf the web, and more. While these systems seem like a convenient feature in today’s “always in touch” society, they are accidents waiting to happen.

Electronic Driver Distractions: Accidents Waiting to Happen?

Distracted driving used to mean taking your attention off the road to turn the radio knob, reach in the backseat for something or eat a sandwich while driving. While those are still distractions, new cars now come equipped with options that allow us to check email, text, surf the web, and a lot more – making car accidents more likely.

The question is – are auto infotainment systems a convenience in today’s “always in touch” society or are they accidents waiting to happen, causing drivers to divert their eyes from the road? Regardless of how you feel about the matter personally, statistics show that the latter may be more accurate.

Driving and Infotainment May Be More Than Drivers Can Safely Handle

Having the ability to stay in touch with family and friends, receive news, and use social media sounds appealing, but driving distractions can be deadly. When smartphones became popular, there was concern about drivers not being able to hold a phone, talk and drive their car at the same time.

Automakers addressed the concern by creating in-vehicle systems that allow drivers to do all of the things they want without holding a phone in their hand. Safer? Actually, not at all. The reason is cognitive distraction.

Regardless of how a phone is being used, it distracts the brain from concentrating on the road. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), eight in 10 drivers mistakenly believe that hands-free cell phones are safer than using a hand-held phone. However, the NSC reports that dozens of recent studies show that hands-free devices are no safer than handheld devices.

Research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety shows that drivers can experience dangerous mental distractions even when their hands are on the wheel and their eyes on the road. As mental workloads and distractions increase, drivers scan the road less and their reaction times slow, as the research entitled Cognitive Distraction in the Vehicle shows.

It might be harder than people think to get drivers to properly understand those concerns and change their behavior. 70 percent of all drivers claim that they consciously chose to use hands-free technology to drive more safely. The idea that infotainment systems must be safe to use because automakers are installing them in automobiles, which almost certainly need to pass some type of government regulation, is a part of the fallacy.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), over 3,300 people were killed and over 400,000 people were injured in crashes in 2012 involving a distracted driver. AAA says a public safety problem is on the horizon due to the growth of voice-activated entertainment systems in new cars. In-vehicle technologies should not be used for essential driving activities, according to AAA.

Holding Distracted Drivers Responsible For Their Actions

The bottom line is that anyone who uses a cell phone while driving puts other motorists in danger and should be held responsible for their actions. Keep in mind that there will always be an insurance company involved that will do whatever it can to pay you as little as possible. Having experienced counsel on your side can level the playing field – in your favor. It’s crucial to have experienced counsel to help you navigate the legal system if you’re involved in a distracted driving accident.