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Are Smart Cars Creating Distracted Drivers?

mcdivitt - smart car distracted driverAs cars today become more technologically advanced, we assume they become more convenient for drivers. But is the convenience and ease of technology in our cars really a good thing when behind the wheel?

According to the CDC, more than 9 people are killed and more than 1,110 people are injured in a car crash due to a distracted driver every day in the United States. While texting and using hand held cell phones are the most common culprits of distracted driving, in-dash systems, navigation systems, and other hand free devices can still distract a driver. Just check out the National Transportation Safety Board’s 2014 “Most Wanted List” regarding distraction in transportation.

A recent article from Fortune discusses the concerns with technology and distracted driving. The article mentions how certain car companies are looking to create cars to better connect with cellular service and use more voice commands. However, some systems, which link to the driver’s phone to read out loud text messages, still allow for the driver to read the text message on the console, and thus, not really alleviating the distraction caused by cell phones.

Studies on Distracted Driving

According to, the official U.S. government website for distracted driving, research shows that the cognitive distraction of a hands-free phone conversation still causes drivers to miss important signals that help them to avoid crashing. A Virginia Tech Transportation Institute study shows that hands-free cell phone use involved “visual-manual tasks at least half of the time, which is associated with a greater crash risk.”

Additionally, a NHTSA study concluded that while drivers frequently use their hands free systems to make calls, they often text while in the car, and end hands-free calls with the cell phone. The study also mentioned that drivers use the phone manually when their voice commands are not recognized when using a Bluetooth connection. Such tasks detract from the goal of hands-free cell phone use, and in essence making “hands-free” use no safer than actual use of the cell phone.

Another study, described in the Daily Mail, found that “talking” to your car can be dangerous. The study rated voice-activated systems while driving. It found that Apple’s Siri was the most distracting and Toyota’s Entune the least distracting. The systems with the worst ratings often made the most errors when it came to recognizing drivers’ voice commands.

For more information, check out these two studies by the AAA Foundation, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to preventing traffic accidents and reducing injuries caused in an accident. These studies cover cognitive skills while driving distracted and the culture around traffic safety.

What Can You Do

The Team at McDivitt Law Firm encourages safe driving. You can pledge to not drive distracted. Also, watch this year’s winning Drive Smart Colorado PSA here to see what you are essentially doing when you drive distracted.

If you are in a car accident with a distracted driver contact a Colorado auto accident attorney at McDivitt Law firm today.

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