Technology May Not Be Effective in Reducing Driver Distractions

woman using hands-free telephone deviceNew technology has allowed people to be more connected than ever and to find necessary information with just the touch of a few buttons. Smartphones, navigation systems, and voice recognition, among others, have made many aspects of life simpler. However, they may not be as effective as first imagined when it comes to preventing distracted driving. A series of studies has shown that despite new technology, drivers are still distracted. Even further, these advances may even make driver distraction worse.

What Is distracted driving?

Distracted driving is defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as driving while doing another activity that takes focus away from the task of driving. Distracted driving can come in many forms, but it commonly includes:

  • Texting
  • Talking on a cell phone
  • Operating a navigation system
  • Eating and drinking
  • Changing the radio station
  • Monitoring children or pets

New Technology to Address Some Forms of Distraction

Over the years, further technology has been developed to attempt to minimize the distraction caused by cellphones, GPS systems, radios, and other electronics. Hands-free and voice recognition systems have been promoted to increase driver safety by eliminating behaviors like the need to hold a cell phone or type in a destination. However, a series of studies at the University of Utah has found that these systems may not be as safe as they appear.

Research showed that drivers talking on the phone, for example, were involved in the same number of accidents whether they were holding their phone or using a hands-free system. Utah researchers note that the real problem in distraction is that it comes from the person himself, not necessarily the technology. They state that holding a conversation with a person outside of the car can be more dangerous because the person on the other end is experiencing a different environment and expects the driver to reply promptly. A person in the car with the driver, however, will offer the same natural breaks in conversation for bad weather or heavy traffic. In fact, a passenger may even help by pointing out an unseen danger.

Hands-Free Technology Poses Its Own Risks

Additionally, hands-free technology can create new risks—ones a driver may not even realize they need to address, including:

  • A false sense of security. Understandably, drivers feel as if they are being more responsible when they are using a hands-free device. They may not worry as much about being distracted as they should.
  • Operating the system. No system is perfect, and there is often a learning curve. This means that drivers do often have to take their eyes from the road to check the system or push buttons.
  • Continued distraction. While many people think that the distraction ends as soon as the technology is settled, this isn’t the case. Researchers found that drivers continued to be distracted for up to 27 seconds after disconnecting from a call or voice-operated system.

Even though this technology may have been designed with the best of intentions, it may not be reducing driver distraction as much as once thought. More than 3,000 people were killed across the U.S. in 2017 due to distracted drivers, and thousands more were injured in 2017. Distracted driving is a serious threat on our roads, and drivers should take care to eliminate as many distractions as possible.

If you or someone you love has suffered injuries in an accident and you suspect the other driver was distracted, you have rights that can be protected. Above all, drivers have a responsibility to operate their vehicles in a safe, focused manner. When they fail in that duty, even if they think they are reducing distractions, they can be held accountable. At The Law Office of Ben Crittenden, Anchorage-based attorney Ben Crittenden has helped many distracted driving accident victims obtain the medical care and compensation they deserved. He understands how difficult this time can be, and he is here to provide victims with the compassion and guidance they need to move forward. To learn more about how Ben may be able to help, call his office today or take a moment to fill out the contact form on this page.