As the overall number of deadly and dangerous crashes continues to decline in recent years, one contributing cause of car accidents increases in significance: driver distraction. How important driver distraction is, but some estimates say that as many as 75% of all accidents are caused by driver distraction, including traditional distractions like kids in the back seat but also including high-tech devices that draw attention away from the task of driving. Research has shown that the reaction time of drivers fiddling with in-car devices is 50 percent slower than normal, and 30 percent slower than while driving drunk.
However, instead of reducing distractions, car manufacturers and marketers of car devices seem bent on increasing them. Some devices are silly and unlikely to be used, let alone become serious dangers, like a steering-wheel table. Others, though, begin as good ideas but may do more harm than good. Here are some of the most dangerous distracting devices on the market that may lead to serious car accidents.
Animated Instrument Clusters: An instrument cluster should be clean and easy-to-read, free of distractions. Recent improvements in LCD technology have allowed car manufacturers to produce more and more complex displays that distract drivers from driving.
Car Cameras: Car cameras began as an aid to backing up in a large vehicle, providing drivers with a view of what they could not see but needed to, the area directly behind their vehicle. In this specific application, they were useful and safe, but they have expanded to become a potentially dangerous distraction. First wide-angle cameras on the nose to look around corners, then surround cameras ostensibly designed for use when off-roading are designed to be used while driving, but looking at and adjusting these cameras can be a potentially very big distraction.
Cell Phones: Of course cell phones are distracting. It’s obvious to see that dialing and texting are distractions, so carmakers have worked to more fully integrate cell phones into the car environment, which may make them even more widely used. Although hands-free dialing and similar innovations will reduce the time eyes are removed from the road, merely listening to and engaging in calls is a dangerous distraction making car accidents more likely. By making it easier to make phone calls, car makers encourage more people to participate in phone calls more often, making distraction-related accidents more likely.
Computerized radios, iPods, MP3 Players: Basic radio listening has been associated with increased driver attention to the road, but when a driver is manipulating the controls of the radio, distraction becomes significant. As radios give people more options and features, the potential for distraction and distraction-related car accidents increases dramatically.
In-Car Internet: Carmakers have worked hard to improve the quality of wireless service that people get in their cars, enabling laptop use with high-speed data transfer so that even streaming video becomes part of the service. At least one recent deadly crash was caused by a truck driver using the internet, and this is likely to increase. Even when used by passengers, they provide a high level of potential distraction as passengers try to share information with the driver, sometimes by showing them the screen, taking the driver’s eyes off the road and potentially causing an accident.
GPS Systems: Although driving in an unfamiliar place can contribute to accidents, GPS systems are also likely to cause accidents. Trying to program a GPS system is one of the most distracting driving-related tasks and has the potential to lead to numerous accidents.
If you have been involved in a car accident, look at the other driver’s car and see what kinds of distracting equipment may have played a role in causing the accident.
And if you have been hurt as a result of a driver’s distraction, the car accident attorneys at Robert W. Kerpsack, CO, LPA stand ready to help. Please contact us today for a free case evaluation.