We live in an age of constantly divided attention. Multitasking is a modern mandatory when it comes to getting everything done on our daily to-do lists. From walking and talking to eating on the run (quite literally), our society’s emphasis on effectiveness and productivity has made every minute matter in terms of efficiency. Technology and the recent advancements in everything from computing to communicating has proven to make our attempts at achieving it all that much more likely. From hands-free and voice activated calling to self-operating machinery, today’s technology has made doing more easier.
Yet, since when is more necessarily better? At what price does our new-found productivity cost us? Distracted attention spans and divided focus can sometimes do more harm than good, especially when it comes to your car. The mix of driving and technology has become a popular and common cocktail for many busy Americans, but recent reports have proven it to be a real recipe for disaster.
The Obvious Offenders: Texting & Calling
Driving while texting and/or talking has become the new norm, and despite federal attempts to outlaw the use of cell phones while driving, there are still upwards of 1.5 million accidents per year attributed to cell-wielding drivers. Similar statistics report an estimated 330,000 injuries per year due to cell phones and an average of one in four accidents are the product of texting while driving.
Most people nowadays are aware of the incredible dangers associated with these two particular activities done behind the wheel and efforts to eliminate their prevalence has proven somewhat effective, with more and more measures being taken at the state and federal levels to outlaw these dangerous activities. Yet it’s more than just texting and calling that’s’ become the source of distraction for today’s drivers.
Surfing & Steering: A Lesser Known Danger
The dangers associated with driving-while-texting are well-known, as nearly 77% of young adults report with confidence their ability to navigate a car while typing on their phones. They are aware of the risks, but consider their skills superior to the average American indicated by the daunting statistics. However, many Americans also engage in web browsing while driving without realizing that it’s equally as dangerous as texting. Surfing the Internet while operating and automobile can create an equally dangerous distraction but isn’t as widely recognized due to its seemingly innocent intentions. Many web-browsing drivers are using the Internet to find directions or locate an address, pursuits that don’t as easily translate to divide attention as a call or text.
GPS: An Even Riskier Route
Distractions while driving can also emerge as a result of technologies completely independent of cell phones. Nearly every car company today offers built-in navigation extras for purchase with the sale of a new car, an amenity that promises easier travel and faster commuting. Yet these GPS systems also offer the same distraction risk posed by cell phones. Many drivers don’t realize that the touch screen systems in their dashboards can divide their attention from the road in the same way a cell phone does.
Technology will continue to grow and affect our attention and our auto skills. Therefore, it is critical that all drivers make a conscious effort to resist the urge to use distracting devices while operating automobiles, from cell phones to navigation devices and everything in between. With technology’s growth, new modes of transportation and improved public means of transportation have provided drivers with safer and often less expensive alternatives for their daily commutes. Today, ride services like Uber and Lyft as well as improved cab services enable the modern multitasks to continue to use technology while traveling without posing a risk to themselves or others on the road.
Pokémon GO is a mobile game with an augmented reality, which allows mobile users to capture their favorite Pokemon in the real world using the same GPS technology as Google Maps. Since Pokémon GO was launched, over 100 million people have downloaded the game.
An obvious problem with Pokémon GO is the potential for user distraction leading to distraction-related accidents and injuries. Indeed, the medical literature has confirmed this problem. A study published by JAMA Internal Medicine recently found that Pokémon GO was responsible for approximately 114,000 incidents of distracted driving or walking occurred in a single 10-day period.
The authors of the study call on game manufacturers and others to add safety features to reduce the potential for distraction-related injuries and deaths, stating “Our findings can help develop strategies for game developers, legislators, and the public to limit the potential dangers of Pokémon Go and other augmented reality games.”
Passen & Powell Combats Distracted Driving
Read about the efforts of Matt Passen, as Chair of the Chicago Bar Association Young Lawyers Section, to curb distracted driving in our community. For a free consultation with one of our attorneys to discuss a potential case, call us at 312-527-4500.