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Distracted driving has arguably been a problem ever since automobiles were invented. Anything that takes your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel or your mind off the task of driving is a distraction that can be dangerous.
But it is hard to argue the fact that distracted driving became much worse and much more prevalent with the invention of cellphones – especially smart phones. Distracted driving accidents are now responsible for about 1,000 injuries and nine deaths every day on U.S. roads.
Smart technology is the main culprit. But many companies claim that tech can also be the solution. According to one recent study, this is simply not the case. In fact, technologies meant to reduce cellphone distractions reduce safe driving abilities more than using marijuana or alcohol.
Moving Smart Phone Features Onto A Dashboard Screen
Many newer vehicles come with “infotainment systems,” which include a touchscreen computer right in the cent of the dashboard. Technologies like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto have capitalized on these systems by allowing them to connect to cellphones via Bluetooth. The idea is to bring the most important cellphone features onto the dash screen, reducing the desire to pick up the phone.
Does it make driving safer? According to one study of 46 drivers in the UK, the answer is a definitive “no.”
The Study Results: Reaction Times Worse Than Impaired Drivers
Test participants were asked to drive while executing commands on either Android Auto or Apple CarPlay. Some were asked to manually manipulate controls on the screen while others had to use voice commands. The voice command group performed slightly better, but both groups were dangerous behind the wheel.
Overall, participants had slower reaction than drivers who were impaired by marijuana or alcohol. Indeed, reaction times were five times slower than among drivers at the legal blood-alcohol limit.
Tech Companies Define Distraction Too Narrowly
As mentioned above, there are three types of driving distraction: Visual, manual and cognitive. These dashboard screen mirroring systems only address manual distraction caused by holding a cellphone while driving. Drivers are still visually and cognitively distracted. And because drivers can touch buttons on the screen, there is still plenty of opportunity for manual distraction as well.
Tech companies have a vested interest in getting people to use their products as often as possible. As such, we should never place too much trust in their proposed “solutions” to the problems created by their technology.
What All Drivers Need To Know
When you get behind the wheel, you cannot rely on technology to save you from distraction. Safe driving needs to be a choice that becomes a habit. Any time you engage with your cellphone or other distractions, you put your own life and the lives of others at serious risk.
If you are among the many Americans who have been seriously injured by a distracted driver, please remember that you have rights and legal options. An experienced personal injury attorney, like an auto accident lawyer from Barry P. Goldberg, can help you hold negligent drivers liable and collect the compensation you need and deserve.