Vehicle Infotainment Safety Systems May Be Counter-Productive
There have been significant advances in vehicle safety in recent years, such as more extensive airbag protection, crash avoidance systems and features that warn drivers about potential mechanical issues. While innovations that reduce the number of car accidents are a welcome development, a new study conducted by AAA indicates that some safety devices may actually make vehicle occupants less safe. While many people understand the hazards posed by drivers who avert their eyes from the road or hands from the steering wheel, the new study focuses on mental distraction of drivers.
The AAA study involved a partnership with researchers at the University of Utah to analyze the potential safety risk associated with so-called “infotainment” systems. These sophisticated on-board computer information systems provide dashboard apps that send text messages, make phone calls and facilitate other cell phone-related apps. Regina Averella, a representative of AAA that commented on the study, explained the risk associated with using these systems, “They may be more convenient, but they’re not safer.” She also suggested the study shows that this type of in-dash technology creates a greater distraction than engaging in a telephone conversation on a handheld mobile phone.
According to the website consumeraffairs.com, these infotainment systems can provide access to social network websites like Facebook. The research conducted by AAA in conjunction with a research team at the University of Utah revealed that as the number of mental tasks and distractions to a driver increase, drivers’ mental focus is compromised so that drivers are more prone to miss visual clues and less likely to scan the road for potential obstacles. When a driver’s operation of a motor vehicle is impacted in this fashion, it creates a significant risk that the driver will fail to perceive stopped vehicles, objects in the roadway and pedestrians according to the AAA study. The report also concludes that voice-to-text features do not avert the hazards associated with handheld cell phone use because of the mental distraction.
CEO and President of AAA Robert L. Darbelnet characterized the proliferation of in-dash mental distractions as a “looming public safety crisis.” “It’s time to consider limiting new and potentially dangerous mental distractions built into cars, particularly with the common public misperception that hands-free means risk-free.” The study concludes that increased mental workload creates a kind of tunnel vision or “attention blindness” impairing the ability of drivers to see crash hazards directly ahead.
If you are involved in an Atlanta car accident involving a distracted driver, our Georgia car crash attorneys at Montlick and Associates are available to provide effective legal representation to those throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including all smaller cities and rural areas in the state.
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