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Technology Designed to Keep Drivers’ Eyes on the Road May Actually Create New Distractions

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The technology offered in many new cars today gives the driver the feeling of being in a space-aged vehicle. Cameras show us what’s behind us while sensors warn us of what’s next to us. We can use voice commands to make hands-free phone calls and to call up a favorite music playlist from our phones. While the intention behind these features is to keep our hands on the wheel and our eyes on the road, they have proven to actually distract from the task of driving. Now, a new feature called head-up display is being offered in more vehicles and may add to the long list of driver distractions.

What Is a Head-Up Display?

Once only offered in high-performance vehicles, the head-up display is a projection of information usually found on the Heads-Up Display Showing the Car's Speeddashboard onto the windshield directly in front of the driver. The graphics may be colored or white and can show your current speed, warn of vehicles or pedestrians entering from the side, or tell you when your following distance is inadequate. The displays are transparent, so they do not block the road behind them. The idea is that, with this information in front of you, you will not have to look down at the dashboard or over your shoulder and you will be more focused on driving.

However, safety experts are concerned that, rather than removing distractions, the displays actually create a distraction. Even if your head is up, if your eyes are on the projected speedometer rather than the actual road, you are not focused on driving. There is also concern about where this technology will go next. So far, it is only being used to give the driver information related to the driving task, but it could easily be expanded to project maps, playlists, restaurant menus, or anything else you can pull up on your phone.

The Government May Offer Guidelines Soon

Automakers are inventing and installing new technology too fast for government regulators to keep up with. While the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers guidelines to automakers regarding driver distraction, they are just beginning to research this particular technology. Unfortunately, it will take crashes resulting in injury and death before we know for sure whether this technology is just another dangerous distraction.

If you suspect driver distraction was the cause of a crash that left you injured, contact our office for a free consultation. Cool technology should never replace safe driving.


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