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New hands-free systems can cause distracted driving

Distracted driving is a problem in Pennsylvania and across the U.S. Since it is a known reason for car accidents with injuries and fatalities, there are attempts on the part of government agencies, law enforcement and even carmakers to find ways to increase safety. It is unrealistic to think that people will stop using their smartphones when driving no matter the punishments and advertising campaigns designed to dissuade them from the practice. With that, new technology built in to vehicles is on the increase. However, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety conducted a study into this new technology and discovered that it is dangerous itself.

Drivers can take as long as 40 seconds to program a navigation system in a vehicle. This is an extended period to be distracted and can cause a crash. These systems also allow drivers to send text messages and surf the web giving them distractions that are not connected to driving as navigation is. The president and CEO of AAA states that the main goal for automakers should be to create systems that do not cause distractions in physical or mental aspects.

In its testing, there were 120 drivers between the ages of 21 and 36 driving 30 different vehicles from the 2017 model year. They drove on residential roads and traveled at 25 miles per hour. Using touch screens, voice-activated commands and other technologies, they used the systems to send text messages, change the radio station and input navigation. 23 required high or very high mental demand to operate them. Seven had moderate demand.

The greatest distraction came from navigation programming, taking 40 seconds on average. They traveled the distance of four football fields in that time frame. Prior research shows that drivers who remove their eyes from the road for two seconds are at twice the risk of an accident. An estimated 11 percent of fatal crashes are believed to be due to a distracted driver. That can cause around 4,000 fatalities in a year.

People who are in a crash should be aware of the chance that a distracted driver was a factor. This can be vital when there are injuries, lost wages and even wrongful death. Speaking to an attorney who is knowledgeable about helping those who have been injured in a car accident can be of great benefit to be compensated in a legal case.

Source: pahomepage.com, "High-tech dashboard systems create dangerous distractions for drivers," Oct. 9, 2017

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