Hands Free May Not Necessarily Equate to Safety

We’ve written a lot about distracted driving accidents over the past few months, and in that time we have covered nearly every type of activity and device in the books. Cell phones, navigation systems, eating in the car, you name it we’ve talked about it. Well, according to a new study recently conducted by AAA, there may be another kind of technology to add to that list, and it might surprise you to find out what it is.

It turns out that the recent innovations in dashboard technology, which have made their way into hundreds of different car models throughout the world, may actually be more distracting than traditional hand held cell phones. Originally championed as a safer alternative to hand held technology use, these screens allow drivers to text and email using only voice commands, and have been heavily marketed to car buyers over the years, especially to younger demographics.

The study, which was released Wednesday, found that hands free devices that translate speech into text are possibly the most distracting of all the technologies a driver has to deal with while driving. That’s because these tasks require greater concentration from drivers, and this can significantly increase the chances of developing what researchers term “tunnel vision” or “inattention blindness.” When this happens drivers may stop mentally processing what they are looking at on the roadway altogether, ignoring the events unfolding outside their vehicle and hindering their response times. When a driver is traveling at 70 miles per hour, as is the case on many freeways, taking their eyes off the road for even a few seconds could mean driving more than the length of a football field completely blind.

“People aren’t seeing what they need to see to drive,” said the president and CEO of the AAA. “Police accident investigative reports are filled with comments like the ‘looked, but did not see.’…We used to think they were lying, but now we know that’s actually true.” As it sits right now, there are roughly 9 million vehicles on the road with these “infotainment systems,” and some officials believe that that number could be as high as 60 million by 2018. AAA officials have recently briefed automakers, and say they would like to limit in vehicle, voice-driven technologies to only core driving tasks. Additionally, in response to the study, the National Safety Council has called on industry policymakers to reconsider including communication and entertainment technology in their future vehicles that might encourage performing activities at the expense of focusing on driving. (The Associated Press)

With the rapid advancements in technology over the years, our lawyers have handled many cases involving distracted driving. If you or someone you know has been injured because of the negligence of a distracted driver, feel free to call us anytime for a free consultation.

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