For decades we’ve been told that cars are being engineered to be safer; airbags, crumple zones, anti-lock brakes, back-up cameras, early warning crash systems, accident avoidance systems, etc… But car manufacturing is a big business, and profits are the name of the game. The more a company can do to attract potential buyers, the more likely their profits will increase. And we’ve become a society that demands convenience, so many of the features being offered are directed to that demand. Hence, the introduction of voice activated controls in vehicles.
Its been determined that those voice activated controls can be as much or more distracting to a driver as hand-held cell phone use and texting. Potentially unsafe mental distractions can persist for as long as 27 seconds after dialing, changing music or sending a text using voice commands, according to surprising new research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. This research represents the third phase of the Foundation’s comprehensive investigation into cognitive distraction, which shows that new hands-free technologies can mentally distract drivers even if their eyes are on the road and their hands are on the wheel.
Researchers found that potentially unsafe levels of mental distraction can last for as long as 27 seconds after completing a distracting task in the worst-performing systems studied. At the 25 MPH speed limit in the study, drivers traveled the length of nearly three football fields during this time. When using the least distracting systems, drivers remained impaired for more than 15 seconds after completing a task.
“Drivers should use caution while using voice-activated systems, even at seemingly safe moments when there is a lull in traffic or the car is stopped at an intersection,” said Marshall Doney, AAA’s President and CEO. “The reality is that mental distractions persist and can affect driver attention even after the light turns green.“The lasting effects of mental distraction pose a hidden and pervasive danger that would likely come as a surprise to most drivers,” said Peter Kissinger, President and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “The results indicate that motorists could miss stop signs, pedestrians and other vehicles while the mind is readjusting to the task of driving.”
Below is a comparison chart of the residual effects of mental distraction while comparing new hands-free technologies in ten 2015 vehicles and three types of smart phones. The analysis found that all systems studied increased mental distraction to potentially unsafe levels. The systems that performed best generally had fewer errors, required less time on task and were relatively easy to use."
So, while the safety systems being engineered into the vehicles are becoming better, the comfort and convenience features are making it more likely that we’ll cause an accident. Car accident investigation is becoming more and more complicated. Many times seriously injured people settle for less than they're entitled to, thinking the only insurance available is that of the guilty driver. However, when someone suffers a catastrophic injury, such as death, amputation, brain injury or paralysis, a thorough and in depth investigation is required to determine if other parties, such as manufacturers are also responsible to ensure the injured party and their family receives fair compensation.
If you or a family member is injured in a motor vehicle accident, call my office for a free consultation. The sooner you call, the sooner a thorough investigation of your case can begin. As with any personal injury case, if I don't recover money for you, you don't pay any attorneys fee.
All the best!
Randy C. Redden