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Comprehensive Research Study Shows The Dangers Of Multi-Tasking While Driving

People today are increasingly worried about the dangers that high technology in automobiles pose for car accidents. Even so, automotive manufacturers have projected plans for 2018 to multiply the use of enhanced infotainment systems in cars by 500 percent. Concerned about these plans, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety launched the most comprehensive study of its kind to evaluate mental distraction while driving. The study employed research techniques used in aviation psychology. The emphasis was to gather data to evaluate how safe “hands-free” is in terms of mental distraction. Researchers observed drivers in simulated driving situations while they talked on the phone, listened to audio books, responded to voice-activated emails and performed other supposedly safe hands-free actions.

The study found:

  • Listening to the radio was a minimal risk.
  • Talking on a cell phone, whether handheld or hands-free, was a moderate risk.
  • Listening and responding to voice-activated emails created extensive risk.

Further information from the AAA Driving Distraction Fact Sheet showed:

  • Using a cell phone while driving reduces spatial recognition of objects by 37 percent.
  • Drivers who text behind the wheel are eight times more likely to be in a crash or near-crash than drivers who do not text.
  • Phone conversations create delayed reaction times, reduce steering-wheel control and cause speed and lane variations.

To put the increasing mental workloads, like voice-activated emails, into a more real perspective, they actually led to drivers not being able to see stop signs or pedestrians that were right in front of them.

While bored drivers may be tempted to put their vehicles infotainment systems to use when driving long distances across desolate interstate freeways, they should think twice about that idea. In 2010, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that more fatal car accidents occurred across the nation in rural than urban areas, and Texas had more fatal car accidents in 2010 than any other state. Also, negligent drivers who paid attention to infotainment systems instead of the road are subject to personal injury cases, and attorneys can hold them accountable for damages.

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