Today’s newer vehicles feature an array of high tech electronics. Some of these are designed to prevent automobile accidents and promote passenger safety, while others are merely for convenience and do not contribute to the basic task of driving.
Unfortunately, there is compelling evidence to indicate that this array of dashboard touch screens and video displays make worse the problem of driver distraction. Features such as complex navigation systems and so-called infotainment systems that allow users to surf the internet can divert a driver’s attention from the road, increasing the likelihood of serious car accidents and injuries. The following is important information all drivers should be aware of regarding car accidents in Colorado, particularly those caused by driver distraction and how new car features can increase your risks.
The Dangers of Driver Distraction
According to recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 1,000 people are injured each day in the United States as a result of car accidents due to driver distraction. Using cellphones and texting or reading emails while driving are among the biggest causes of crashes involving distracted drivers. But doing anything that takes your eyes off the road or your hands off the wheel even for a few seconds can increase the risk of an accident.
The CDC states that being preoccupied and taking your focus off the road for as little as five seconds can equate to traveling the entire length of a football field if you are driving at 55 miles per hour. They advise all motorists to be aware of the three main types of driver distraction:
- Visual distractions, which require you to take your eyes off the road;
- Manual distractions, which require you to remove your hands from the wheel;
- Cognitive distractions, which divert your mind from the task of driving itself.
Texting is particularly dangerous as it involves all three of these driver distractions. Other activities that can increase your car accident risks include changing car stereo or GPS settings, eating or drinking while driving, and even talking to other passengers in your vehicle.
Technology Worsens Driver Distraction
While traffic safety experts work to raise awareness of the dangers of driver distraction, the automotive industry continues to put an increasing number of technological devices in newer vehicles.
According to an October 2017 report by the American Automobile Association (AAA), ‘infotainment systems’ are in high demand among new car purchasers. These systems are designed to inform and entertain drivers or their passengers while making the task of driving itself more comfortable. Yet, they can end up increasing the odds of a motorist being involved in a distracted driving accident.
The AAA report claims that roughly one out of three motorists uses in-car technologies that divert a driver’s attention, causing them to remove their hands from the wheel and their eyes from the road.
Consumer Reports lists the following as among the most in-demand new car infotainment technologies, all of which can increase the potential for driver distraction:
- Built-in dashboard automotive navigation systems: These can distract drivers with last minute turns, direction changes, and alerts, as well as requiring frequent programming while driving;
- WIFI-enabled video and audio streaming devices: These provide entertainment for passengers and are appealing for parents. But fumbling with settings and options can easily cause driver distraction.
- Touchscreen video monitors and voice command systems: These offer convenient controls such as allowing you to change seat positions and air conditioning or heat settings. Dialing in the perfect setting can easily distract drivers.
- Bluetooth enabled calling devices: While hands-free communication may be perfectly legal in most states, driving while talking on the phone is a distraction that can increase your car accident risks.
The AAA researchers said that programming navigation systems was the most distracting task for drivers and that that each of the above systems has some adverse effects on drivers.
Even with these seemingly driver friendly devices, design system glitches and device malfunctions can frustrate drivers, requiring manual resetting and diverting their attention.
Colorado Urges Putting the Brakes on Driver Distraction, a ‘Killer Habit’
The Colorado Department of Transportation (CODOT) has launched an aggressive campaign to put a stop to distracted driving in the state. Labeling it a ‘killer habit’, the DOT reports that driver distraction results in roughly 40 accidents each day and contributes to more than 10 percent of all fatal car crashes in the state.
Using law enforcement officials and public service campaigns to communicate their message, CODOT urges drivers to put down their phones, laptops, and other technological devices. As new cars increasingly include technological features to attract buyers, preventing distracted driving becomes even more of a challenge.
CODOT recommends downloading the following safe driving apps:
- Life Saver, which uses your car’s GPS and accelerometer to block calls and monitor driving behaviors, offering rewards for driving distraction free.
- True Motion Family, which gives you a snapshot of your family’s driving habits, pointing out specific times and places where distracted driving occurred.
- SafeRide, which pairs with your car’s Bluetooth entertainment system, muting audio notifications and disabling touch access to screens.
Reach Out to Us Today for Help
Taking the steps needed to prevent driver distraction is one way you can protect yourself and your loved ones while on the road. Unfortunately, you cannot control the behavior of other drivers. When car accidents and injuries do occur, contact The Sawaya Law Firm right away.
Our experienced Colorado car accident attorneys provide professional legal representation for clients in Denver and the surrounding areas who have been injured in accidents caused by other motorists. Call or contact our office online today and request a free consultation to see how our team can assist you in getting the compensation you need to recover.