Internet-Enabled Systems in Autos Encourage Distracted Driving, Says AAA

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has found that dangerous mental distractions exist when drivers use internet-enabled systems in autos. These systems are becoming more popular, and auto manufacturers are promoting them as a safety feature; however, the AAA research found they may cause distracted driving accidents:

As mental workload and distractions increase reaction time slows, brain function is compromised, drivers scan the road less and miss visual cues, potentially resulting in drivers not seeing items right in front of them including stop signs and pedestrians.

As a result of this study, AAA is appealing to the public to not use these voice-to-text features while their vehicle is in motion.

The AAA predicts a five-fold increase in infotainment systems in new vehicles by 2018.
“There is a looming public safety crisis ahead with the future proliferation of these in-vehicle technologies,” said AAA President and CEO Robert L. Darbelnet. “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.”
Cognitive distraction expert Dr. David Strayer and his research team at the University of Utah measured brainwaves, eye movement and other metrics to assess what happens to drivers’ mental workload when they attempt to do multiple things at once, building upon decades of research in the aerospace and automotive industries. The research included:
  • Cameras mounted inside an instrumented car to track eye and head movement of drivers.
  • A Detection-Response-Task device known as the “DRT” was used to record driver reaction time in response to triggers of red and green lights added to their field of vision.
  • A special electroencephalographic (EEG)-configured skull cap was used to chart participants’ brain activity so that researchers could determine mental workload.
Test drivers engaged in common tasks, like listening to an audio book, talking on the phone and listening and responding to voice-activated emails while they were driving. Listening to the radio or an audio book was found to be a minimal risk. Talking on the cell-phone, both handheld and hands-free, was a moderate risk. Listening and responding to in-vehicle, voice-activated email was an extensive risk.
 According to AAA Foundation President and CEO Peter Kissinger, “Increased mental workload and cognitive distractions can lead to a type of tunnel vision or inattention blindness where motorists don’t see potential hazards right in front of them.”
Given this new research, Fred Pritzker, lead lawyer for our Auto Accident Law Team, joins the AAA in urging drivers to do the following:
  • Limit the use of voice-activated technology for driving-related activities such as climate control, windshield wipers and cruise control, and to ensure these applications do not lead to increased safety risk due to mental distraction while the car is moving.
  • Refrain from using voice-to-text technologies such as using social media or interacting with e-mail and text messages while the car is in motion.

Attorney Fred Pritzker and our other Minnesota car accident lawyers have won cases where the at-fault driver was distracted, including cases where the driver was talking on a cell phone or texting. Our attorneys have won millions for clients in personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits, including several car accident settlements over one million dollars.  You can contact our lawyers for a FREE consultation here.

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