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More distractions coming from within vehicles

A recent car accident has left you injured and hurting. Whether you suffered broken bones, internal injuries or more permanent damage such as a traumatic brain injury or spinal cord injury, your life is on hold, perhaps changed forever.

Various types of dangerous conduct by other drivers could put you in this situation. This includes distracted driving. Cellphones are one common source of driver distraction, but they do not hold a monopoly in this regard. Another thing drivers could end up getting distracted by is their own car.

Dangerous features

Car manufacturers include more features in their new models each year. Many of these additions are for added safety, such as collision warning systems and back-up cameras. However, a startling number of features may prove dangerously distracting to a driver. Newer model vehicles can have infotainment systems that include all sorts of things, such as:

  • Voice-activated cell phone capability
  • Hands-free text message sending and receiving
  • One finger radio tuning
  • Touch-screen web browsing
  • Social media connections
  • Navigational system

Even though car makers use high tech capabilities such as voice activation and touch screen, research shows that those do little to minimize the level of distraction the features cause for a driver. For example, if you are attempting to find a song on your playlist using a voice-activated program, you may still need to look at the display screen to see if your device correctly made your selection.

Federal research long ago determined that looking away from the road ahead for only two seconds doubles your chances of being in an accident. Nevertheless, the most complicated system in your vehicle, the navigational system, takes an average of 40 seconds of your attention to program and activate. Even driving at a low rate of speed, 40 seconds of driving blind can lead to catastrophic consequences.

Who is in control?

A recent study tested the distraction rating for infotainment systems in all new models of cars, scoring them from low to high, based on the demand on your attention the system produced. Not a single system rated a low demand of attention. Seven models required a moderate amount of attention, 11 rated high and 12 of the 30 systems rated very high levels of attention.

Although technology exists to make vehicles safer by locking certain systems while a car is in motion, few manufacturers currently include that technology in their vehicles. This leaves the responsibility firmly in the hands of drivers to exercise prudence and self-control behind the wheel. One hopes that, moving forward, more drivers will do so.

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