In-car infotainment systems raise risks of distracted driving accidents
If you're of a certain age, you probably remember when a car radio featured a couple of knobs and a few push buttons to find your favorite stations.
But those days are long gone. Today, many modern car "radios" are anything but simple.
If you have a new or recent model vehicle, you likely have a complex "infotainment system" that does much more than just play tunes. Drivers can use touch screens embedded in their dashboard to send text messages and program navigation. A state-of-the-art system can link to apps on a smart phone. A driver can manipulate the infotainment system with controls on a steering wheel or use voice-based technologies to search the internet while driving.
While drivers may enjoy being connected through their infotainment systems, they are facing greater risks of crashing their cars due to distraction. According to research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, drivers setting their navigation or using new vehicle infotainment systems to text were distracted both visually and mentally for over 40 seconds.
That's an alarming amount of time. Earlier research into distracted driving found that motorists who took their eyes off the road for just two seconds were doubling their car accident risk.
According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study, researchers examined two types of distracted driving: visual (taking eyes off the road) and cognitive (thinking about something other than driving). Researchers also studied how long it took drivers to finish a task using their infotainment systems.
Infotainment systems create a variety of distractions
Researchers created a rating scale to measure the time it took to complete certain activities using an infotainment system. Tasks ranged from low to high level of demand. Listening to the radio or an audiobook (a cognitive distraction) was viewed as a low level of demand task, while balancing a checkbook would be high level.
Programming a route using the navigation was the most significant distraction involving infotainment systems. It took drivers about 40 seconds on average to complete. Researchers tested drivers' reaction times while using voice command and touch screen behind the wheel and found various degrees of distraction.
AAA says an in-car infotainment system should never exceed a low level of demand for the driver. There are ways to reduce driver distraction. Infotainment systems can have more lock-out features for tasks that demand a high level of focus. Drivers also can make wise choices and use certain features when the car is safely stopped.
As experienced injury attorneys in Seattle, we have seen firsthand how a crash can have a devastating impact on the life of a victim and lives of the victim's family. Distracted driving accidents can lead to devastating brain injuries. Victims who sustain serious head injuries may no longer be able to enjoy quality time with friends and family. They may have to give up careers. They may be unable to take care of themselves and live an independent life.
In Washington state, 156 of the 537 fatal motor vehicle accidents in 2016 were linked to distractions, according to a report in the Seattle Times. The report states that distracted drivers caused 572 of the 2,208 serious injuries in accidents.
A crash as a result of a distracted driver can hurt victims physically and emotionally. If you or a loved one was injured or a loved one died, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. Unfortunately, insurance companies sometimes look for ways to avoid pay the full value of a claim. That's why you need a strong advocate fighting for your rights.
You need Nelson Langer Engle, PLLC on your side. Call us today for a free consultation if you or a loved one was injured in a distracted driving accident: (403) 623-7520.