The message has been getting out in recent years that distracted driving is a serious problem that leads to many accidents, injuries, and even deaths on American roads. Cell phone use behind the wheel is recognized as a dangerous distraction, while texting and driving has received special attention as a hazard.
A new study, however, has found an even worse category of electronic distraction in today’s vehicles: the navigation and entertainment systems used as important selling points by most auto manufacturers.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety commissioned a team of researchers in the Department of Psychology at the University of Utah to look at the visual and cognitive demands required by the infotainment systems of new cars. They looked specifically at thirty vehicles from the 2017 model year across a broad range of models, from the Honda Civic and Kia Sorento to the Audi Q7 and Tesla Model S.
There’s not really any good news: The navigation and entertainment systems (referred to as “infotainment” systems in the report) in every vehicle tested scored from moderate to very high as driving distractions. Not one scored in the low category, and more than 76 percent of the tested vehicles scored high or very high.
Texting while driving has received a lot of attention, and many studies have settled on five to seven seconds as the typical time that eyes are off the road when texting, with total distraction time—during which a driver isn’t fully focused on the road—usually estimated in the fifteen- to twenty-second range.
Previous research has found that looking away from the road for even two seconds can double your crash risk. Because of this, AAA ranks texting as a high-level distraction.
Despite their supposed streamlining and optimization for distraction-free use while driving, vehicle infotainment systems distracted test users for an average of more than forty seconds, even if the systems allowed users to keep their eyes on the road. That huge “cognitive demand” caused AAA to rank these systems in general as very high-level distractions—worse than texting or cell phone use.
Few deny the overall problem of distracted driving. Most people recognize the risk, but most also admit to doing it. The sad but predictable result is that crashes that can be blamed directly on distracted driving have slowly but steadily continued to increase in number.
The most recent data blame about 10 percent of all motor vehicle fatalities on distracted driving, putting it among the major car crash causes (along with drunk driving, speed, and other reckless behaviors).
When you’ve been injured in a crash caused by a distracted driver, turn to Craig Swapp & Associates for help with your case. Our experienced attorneys have helped hundreds of clients with their automobile accident claims, and we understand that, just because a driver wasn’t using a handheld device when he or she caused a crash, the driver might still have been guilty of distracted driving.
Give us a call today at 1-800-404-9000 or reach us via the form below to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.