Distracted driving has become a major problem in recent years, especially with the rise of smartphones and other mobile technology. Many states have enacted laws to disallow the use of electronics without hands-free technology while driving, or placed outright bans on certain activities, such as texting. The state of Texas passed its own ban on either sending or reading electronic messages while driving in late 2017 to reduce the number of accidents and deaths caused by drivers paying attention to phones instead of the road.
However, many newer vehicles are now coming with advanced smartphone or tablet-like technology, with screens embedded directly in the dash. These systems are promoted as being safer alternatives, but are they really any safer than using a phone while driving? A new study suggests that may not be the case.
How Technology Affects Distracted Driving Accidents
A recent report by the AAA Foundation for Automobile Safety looks at the nature of so-called “In-Vehicle Information Systems” (IVIS) that include features such as navigation and GPS controls, hands-free calling and texting, and audio controls. These systems are increasingly common in newer vehicles, and often include large screens that may have touch-screen capability, hardware buttons, or a mixture of both.
By now, it has become common knowledge that using a smartphone while driving is not a good idea, and you can get a ticket in many places if you’re caught texting while driving. But what doesn’t occur to many people is that IVIS systems often link to smartphones to provide much of the same functionality. There may be an assumption that since the IVIS is offered as a built-in feature of the vehicle, the IVIS is somehow a safer thing to use—even though most systems can connect directly to a phone, mimicking the exact same functionality.
The study from the AAA shows that nothing could be further from the truth. Multiple tests of different IVIS-based features in 2017 model cars from multiple manufacturers showed that the systems all pulled either attention or vision from the task of driving for significant amounts of time.
Some features drew the driver’s eyes and attention for as long as 40 seconds. A car going 60 miles per hour can travel two-thirds of a mile in 40 seconds. That’s the length of nearly 12 football fields. Forty seconds is also more than four times the NHTSA’s recommendations for visual and manual tasks, which say that tasks should take no longer than 12 seconds to perform.
The AAA study also found that even though voice-activated features did not require the eyes to be away from the road for as long, they still pose a significant risk. Any benefit gained from not being visually distracted was lost, according to the authors, by the mental distraction caused by how long it took to successfully operate the voice features.
Proving Distracted Driving After an Accident
If a driver is distracted by an IVIS, a phone, or other device and hits your vehicle, you may need to provide evidence of the distraction. If you or a witness to the accident saw the driver not looking at the road immediately prior to the crash, tell the responding police so that it can be included in the accident report. In some cases, the driver may admit outright to operating the in-car system. If not, the car’s systems may have a log of what feature was being used, including any text messages sent or received. If the driver’s phone was linked to the car system, their phone may also have call or text logs showing that he or she was using the system. Another increasingly common source of information is from dash cameras—in your car, the victim’s car, or even in a nearby vehicle that witnessed the whole accident.
There may be other sources of information to show that the other driver was distracted by an IVIS, as well. A personal injury attorney will be able to help investigate the circumstances around your accident and help you move forward with your claim, so that you can seek financial compensation for the expenses related to your accident.
Get Legal Help Today
To get the legal help that you need after your accident, call the attorneys at Wayne Wright LLP today. We make it our job to stand up for the rights of those who have been seriously hurt in car accidents caused by negligence, recklessness, or wrongdoing, and we’re here to help you and your family begin the recovery process today.
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