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Infotainment Systems and Distracted Driving: A Leading Cause of Auto Accidents

Infotainment Systems and Distracted Driving: A Leading Cause of Auto Accidents

To the north of the Inland Empire is the heart of today’s technological advances, Silicon Valley. It is there where many of today’s modern tech luxuries have been born, the most prominent being smartphones and their vast array of apps. Many teenagers and young adults can’t imagine life without the products that these tech companies have produced. Even for older consumers, life before Siri and Facebook seems like a distant memory. However, the increased proliferation of smartphones and other mobile technology has had a dangerous side effect, which is an increase in distracted driving.

More and more vehicles today are being equipped with infotainment systems that are merging popular smartphone features with cars. Since 2014, all GM cars have had the option to include 4G LTE, a feature that can connect up to seven devices in one vehicle. This and similar features are also accompanied by large touch screens to access features, with some requiring increased attention due to poor responsiveness when attempting to press a button. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has given recommended guidelines for auto manufacturers and tech companies that are looking to implement more technology into motor vehicles. Their first guidelines were directed at auto companies and aimed to reduce distracted driving when using infotainment systems. This includes aiming to reduce the amount of time drivers are looking away from the road. Their 2016 guidelines encouraged smartphone manufacturers to design pairing functions. Future guidelines will focus on voice controls and reducing cognitive distractions. While keeping a driver’s eyes on the road is important and can reduce distracted driving accidents, hands-free controls can also result in accidents since a driver’s mind is not fully focused on the task at hand.

David Strayer is a professor of cognition and neural science at the University of Utah who has researched hands-free systems, finding that such systems can be just as dangerous because they present a cognitive distraction. He supports hands-free options and apps that lock drivers from using messaging apps on their phones but has noted that the implementation of these systems has been inconsistent. In the Consumer Reports distracted driving article, Strayer stated, “In some cases, in-vehicle systems are locking out social media for drivers and in others it is not. It’s all over the map.” With the slow adoption of self-driving cars, these issues may not be a problem in the future. But for now, he also stressed that stricter guidelines should be implemented with cooperation between government regulators, tech, and auto companies to minimize distracted driving.

Statistics and Survey

In a survey conducted by Consumer Reports (and discussed in distracted driving article), the findings involving distracted driving are shocking:

  • 52 percent of drivers admitted to engaging in distracting activities.
    • 41% use hands to send a text.
    • 37% use hands to play music on a smartphone.
    • 20% use hands to access a web browser or to compose, send, or read email.
    • 8% watch videos on their phone while driving.
  • Fatal distracted-driving crashes involving cell phones increased to 14 percent (442) in 2015 from 12 percent (354) in 2011.
  • 3,450 people were killed because of distracted driving in 2016, a slight decrease (2.2%) from 2015.

If you were injured in a car wreck or lost a loved one, contact the Law Offices of Brian Brandt. You have rights that need to be upheld and we can help you fight for the compensation you deserve.

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