Hands-Free Devices Still Result in Dangerous Distraction

Many of us make our best efforts to be responsible drivers and avoid using handheld devices while on the road. A number of car manufacturers have added center console devices which allow drivers to listen to media on their phones, answer calls, send texts, or get directions without having to pull out their phones. New research shows, however, that these hands-free entertainment systems are not as effective at avoiding driver distraction as would be expected, and that, in fact, drivers remain distracted long after they have stopped looking at the actual screen or console.

The University of Utah, together with the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, sought to look at the effects of ten different cars’ in-vehicle entertainment systems, along with three different voice recognition software programs, on the drivers that used them. The researchers created a simulated driving experience which examined how much attention each of these systems demanded from the driver. The systems’ attention demands were given a score between 1 and 5, with 1 being a completely distraction-free drive, and 5 being like driving while attempting to both solve a math problem and also memorize a list of words.

The researchers found that the most distracting in-vehicle entertainment system was that installed in the 2015 Mazda 6, which was given a score of 4.6—nearly as distracting as memorizing words while solving math problems. The most distracting voice-recognition system was found to be Microsoft’s Cortana system, which scored a 3.8 on the scale. Perhaps more troublingly, the study revealed that, even after drivers stopped engaging with the voice recognition system or entertainment console, they remained mentally distracted for an average of 27 seconds afterward. This means that, even though these drivers were looking at the road, their minds were back on the interaction with technology they just had, such that they were prone to missing important events happening on the road in front of them. This time lapse is long enough for a driver to traverse the length of three football fields if driving at 25 mph, and certainly enough time to cause a serious car accident.

For knowledgeable and experienced legal assistance in seeking money damages for car accident injuries caused by a distracted driver, contact the seasoned Dothan personal injury attorneys at Cobb, Boyd, White & Cobb for a free consultation on your claims, at 334-677-1000.