Even When Using Hands-Free Devices, Drivers Are Dangerously Distracted
Many drivers have made a transition from using their cell phones while they’re behind the wheel of a car, to using hands-free technology to perform some of the same tasks. Drivers assume that not looking down at a phone or using voice commands will keep them safe from dangerous levels of distraction, but research now shows that even hands-free systems cause drivers to miss important information on the road in front of them, potentially leading to serious injuries in auto accidents.
A team at the University of Utah created a simulated driving experience where participants were tasked with driving while using one of ten different in-vehicle entertainment consoles, or one of three voice recognition software systems commonly available on smartphones. The researchers looked at the degree to which drivers were distracted by each system, scoring them on a scale from 1 to 5, with 1.2 being akin to listening to the radio, and 5 being driving while solving math problems and memorizing a list of words. The most distracting in-vehicle system was determined to be the Mazda 6, scoring a 4.6 on the scale. However, drivers using any form of technology while behind the wheel were found to be preoccupied and not able to give driving their full attention for an average of 27 seconds after interacting with the technology. This is long enough to cover the length of three football fields for a driver traveling at 25 mph, or more than half a mile at highway speeds.
The results of this research highlight the ways in which drivers tend to overestimate their ability to focus on driving while also completing other tasks, even where those tasks do not require physically engaging with or looking at a screen. One of the researchers described the mental toll that using a device while driving takes on the user as being akin to “trying to balance your checkbook as you’re driving down the road.” David Strayer of the University of Utah explained, “[y]ou’ve shifted your attention to interacting with the device, you stop scanning, you don’t anticipate hazards, you don’t notice things that are in your way.”
If you or someone you love has experienced injuries in a Kentucky car accident caused by a distracted driver, seek the full compensation you’re owed for your medical expenses, property damage, and pain and suffering by contacting the seasoned Irvine personal injury attorneys at Davis & Haymond, P.S.C., at 606-726-9991.