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Systems to stop distracted driving might cause car accidents

The dangers of distracted driving are generally known in Florida. Law enforcement and legislators are aware of this problem and are actively seeking strategies to make the road safer and reduce the number of car accidents that occur because drivers are not paying attention to the road. However, new information is coming to light about the dangers of being distracted by onboard navigation systems whose specific intent is to keep drivers from becoming distracted and to provide amenities such as navigation. Drivers in Florida and those who are on the road as pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists should be cognizant of this.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety did tests for voice and touch-activated screens in late-model vehicles, alternatively referred to as "infotainment." It found that the need to pay cognitive and physical attention to these devices forced drivers to look away from the road for 40 seconds or more when they navigated or sent a text message. Research that was conducted in the past has shown that drivers who look away from the road and are distracted for as little as two seconds are at twice the risk of a car crash.

Close to 40 percent of drivers in the U.S. are using infotainment when behind the wheel. AAA's research highlights how risky this can be as it forces drivers to perform tasks that are complex and requires multiple levels of effort to finish them effectively. University of Utah researchers had drivers operate 30 vehicles from 2017 with infotainment installed and perform various tasks ranging from sending a text, tuning the radio and programming the navigation system while driving. Navigation took an average of 40 seconds. Drivers traveled around 400 yards when moving at 25 mph while distracted. 23 of the vehicles required drivers to have high to very high demand to operate the infotainment.

A strategy that AAA suggests is to have the system shut off automatically while the vehicle is in motion. However, with the number of distractions available to drivers, putting the genie back in the bottle can be difficult, if not altogether impossible. People who are in a crash with a distracted driver can suffer brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, lacerations, broken bones and even suffer wrongful death. For those affected by this kind of accident, a personal injury attorney can help with the investigation and pursuing compensation to cover all the losses incurred after a crash.

Source: spacecoastdaily.com, "VIDEO: New Vehicle Infotainment Systems Create Increased Distractions Behind the Wheel," Oct. 8, 2017

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