We seem to be coming across news stories that talk about the dangers of distracted driving almost on a daily basis. Modern automobile technology with the availability of voice-activated features and touch-screen controls has made the vehicles we drive mostly one big distraction. An article in The Wall Street Journal points out how even as lawmakers move to tighten rules on distracted driving, cars are coming equipped with an increasing array of features that may contribute to driver inattention.
Aids or Distractions?
There are many examples of such in-car distractions. For example, voice technology makes hands-free texting possible. Bluetooth capability and touch screens with drop down menus are some of the other in-car features that may cause a driver to take his or her hands of the wheel, eyes off the road and attention away from the act of driving.
At times the hands-free texting might not work the way you want it to or a hands-free Bluetooth feature may require you to call out someone’s name several times to make a phone call to them and distract you from operating the vehicle. Automakers have offered more gadgets to help keep drivers off their phones. But, those efforts have often been thwarted and drivers left frustrated as they attempt to get it the gadget to work properly. These features that are meant to help drivers cut out distractions, may in the end, make them more distracted.
Modern in-car features are creating more cognitive distractions for drivers. Cognitive distraction is simply another way to describe driver inattention, or not keeping your eyes and attention on the road. David Strayer at the University of Utah created “the cognitive distraction scale” by observing drivers’ reactions to a series of stimuli and rating them on a scale of 1 to 5. 1 stands for simple driving and 5 represents a complex mental task such as balancing a checkbook.
An act such as listening to the radio, music or an audio book was under 2 on the scale. Talking to a passenger in the vehicle is 2.33 while talking with a friend on a hand-held phone is 2.45. Voice-activated texting is much higher on the scale at 3.06. This shows how error-prone, user-unfriendly voice-enabled texting can be, and more distracting than talking on a hand-held cell phone. Driver anxiety and distraction shot up when motorists became frustrated with such features, the study found.
Managing Cognitive Distractions
The problem with hands-free devices is that they don’t eliminate cognitive distractions. In some cases, they might make these distractions worse. The problem is also that consumers are lulled into a sense of security thinking they are safe if they use hands-free technology. Even though your hands may be on the wheel, your mind is not fully occupied with the act of driving, which can be dangerous.
Here are a few steps we can all take to reduce all types of cognitive distractions:
• When you grab food on the go, take 10 minutes to park and eat. You can use this time to check your messages or return some phone calls.
• If you get lost while driving or need to make major changes to your route, find a safe place and pull off the road.
• Use a buddy system. An adult passenger riding next to you can share your awareness of the driving situation, and actually help reduce the risk of a crash. Keep conversations simple because a heated discussion can pull your attention away from the road.
• Suspend phone conversations particularly when traffic is chaotic or heavy and in bad weather. You need your full attention on the road to anticipate and react to hazardous roadway conditions.
• On long drives, take breaks to rest your eyes.
If You Have Been Injured
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident caused by a distracted driver or if you have lost a loved one in an auto accident caused by a reckless driver or due to someone else’s negligence, the experienced New York personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Kenneth A. Wilhelm can help you better understand your legal rights and options, and also fight hard to recover just compensation for you. Our law firm recently recovered $5,600,000 for a bicyclist who was hit by a van, and $2,550,000 for another victim of a truck accident, and $3,000,000 for a pedestrian who was hit by a car, and the full $1,000,000 insurance policy for a pedestrian who was hit by a truck, and $4,625,000 for a driver who was in a car and was hit by a van.
Please contact us TOLL FREE 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-WORK-4-YOU (1-800-967-5496). WE CAN EVEN COME TO YOU. There is no attorneys’ fee unless we recover money for you. We can also help with personal injury cases in New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, or Florida. If you have been seriously injured in any of the 50 U.S. states, please call us and we will try to help you with your case.
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