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Distracted driving dangers are right before your eyes

There is no question that we live in an age of technological miracles. Considering that only a couple of generations ago, the common form of transportation was a horse-drawn carriage, the phenomenal advances in that industry are nothing short of awe-inspiring.

Many adults still remember the excitement of playing cassette tapes — then CDs — while driving instead of having to search the dial for a favorite tune. Of course, you were probably among those who were relieved when it was no longer necessary to have a glove box full of impossible-to-fold paper maps. However, some are beginning to wonder if the advances in new car systems may be too much for our own good. You may agree if you recently suffered injuries in a distracted driving accident.

Testing the safety of new technology

AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety commissioned a university study to see if infotainment systems standard in most new cars are creating dangerous situations. If you have a newer model vehicle, you may not need a university study to tell you how distracting the systems on your dashboard can be. Nevertheless, the study asked participants to perform four common tasks using the in-vehicle information systems in 30 new vehicle models. The tasks included:

  • Sending a text
  • Making a call
  • Tuning the radio
  • Programming a navigation route

The variety of systems included touch-screen, voice activation and other advancements designed supposedly to make the use of these technologies safe while driving. However, as you may expect, the tests proved otherwise.

When seconds matter

It may surprise you to learn that research by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has long confirmed that taking your eyes from the road for just two seconds doubles your risk of having an accident. With this in mind, imagine the danger to you when other drivers take 24 seconds or longer to perform the tasks in the AAA study. Even with touchscreen and voice activation, the study indicated that in-vehicle technology created a situation in which the driver was decidedly distracted.

The most alarming result involved the use of navigation programs, which distracted the participant drivers for an average of 40 seconds. From your own experience, you may have realized it is safer to program your navigation before you begin driving or to pull over to adjust your route.

Moreover, the distraction of these devices, particularly the cellphone, is not limited to taking one's eyes off the road. Cellphones and other technology also reduce the brain's ability to remember and focus on the driving environment, placing you in danger of potentially suffering serious injuries when a distracted driver causes an accident.

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