No Safe Way to Use a Phone While Driving

Hands-free technologies might make it easier for motorists to talk or text while driving, but dangerous mental distractions exist even when drivers keep their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road.

A study released in June 2013 by the Automobile Club of America said voice-command devices that let drivers text and email are even more distracting than in-hand talking on a cellphone while operating a vehicle. Voice commands require greater concentration than previously thought, said the researchers for ACA. There is simply no safe way to use a phone while driving.

The safest thing is to hang up your phone or your Bluetooth. When you get to where you’re going, return your calls. Multitasking is not focusing, and you need to focus on the road while driving.

Distracted Driving Causes Accidents

Statistics indicate that distraction contributes to 16% of all fatal crashes, or 5,000 deaths every year. People are not seeing what they need to see to drive. Police accident investigative reports are now filled with comments like “looked, but did not see.”

The greater the concentration required to perform a task, the more likely a driver is to develop what researchers call “tunnel vision” or “inattention blindness.” Drivers will stop scanning the roadway or ignore their side and rearview mirrors. Instead, they look straight ahead, but fail to see what’s in front of them, such as red lights and pedestrians.

Automakers Attract Buyers with Distracting Dashboard Infotainment Systems

Car companies continue to put profits in front of safety. Going beyond simple hands-free devices to hold a cell phone, automakers are now trying to excite buyers, especially younger motorists, with dashboard infotainment systems that allow them to verbalize commands such as turning on windshield wipers, posting Facebook messages and ordering a pizza. About 9 million cars and trucks on the road in the United States have dashboard technology systems, a figure that is expected to jump to roughly 62 million by 2018, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA).

Potential for Lawsuits with Distracting Technology

Applications, dashboard systems or other technology that can be shown to distract drivers could become the subjects of liability suits. Insurance companies in particular may advance such efforts, and all it takes is one successful lawsuit to freeze development by third-party app companies.