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Distracting technology in the driver's seat

New vehicles are being equipped with technological devices that are also threatening auto safety, according to a recent report by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. This complex equipment has increased distracted driving, which, in turn, leads to the threat of a motor vehicle accident.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that 3,477 people were killed and 390,000 suffered injuries in accidents caused by distracted drivers in 2015. However, these figures may not be accurate because distracted driving is underreported because drivers do not admit to it.

The trend toward safer driving from the use of safety features and other measures has been stopped. The National Safety Council found that highway deaths in 2016 exceeded 40,000 for the first time in a decade.

The AAA found that the new features include infotainment systems that are more complicated, more difficult to use and more distracting because they may be used when the car is moving. For example, changing the station on a radio in an older car took two seconds. Now, this task takes 24 seconds.

Navigation devices are even more demanding and distracting. It requires 40 seconds of visual and mental attention from the driver. Other distractions are also becoming standard. Vehicles are being equipped with technology that provides Internet searches and social media interaction.

This technology apparently violates voluntary guidelines issued by the NHTSA in 2012. These guidelines called for systems that stop distracting tasks unless the vehicle is parked. States also passed laws that block texting and driving and require hands-free cellphone use.

AAA discussed its findings with manufacturers and suppliers. It argued that distractions should be reduced by designing devices that do not make more visual or mental demands than listening to the radio or an audiobook.

Victims of a car crash caused by a distracted driver may be entitled to compensation for their injuries and financial losses. An attorney can help obtain evidence on distractions and other negligent driving.

Source: The Washington Post, "New cars have more distracting technology on board than ever before," Ashley Halsey III, Oct. 5, 2017

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