In 2010, distracted driving will remain a hot topic and rightly so. Technology has become an integral part of our every day lives and has transformed methods of transportation, such as automobiles, into remote offices. The problem that our Chicago car accident attorneys are beginning to see, however, is what happens when drivers become distracted by certain technology in their vehicles and become distracted, resulting in catastrophic crashes.
The majority of stories written about distracted driving, both here and in major media outlets, have focused on conduct of drivers. People talk on cell phones; people send text messages; people check email; people surf the internent while driving, all while driving. Indeed, in an effort to curb the actions of people, states like Illinois have passed laws curbing or outright banning such activities. The federal government has passed similar bans for certain commercial drivers.
What has been given far less scrutiny is the continued proliferation of car dashboard and console gadgets that contribute to driver distraction. Our Chicago truck accident attorneys believe more thought should be given to the premise that “more” technology in our vehicles is necessarily better.
The U.S. Department of Transportation defines distracted driving as any non-driving activity, which distracts the driver’s attention away from the task of driving. For years, experts have found that hundreds of people have been seriously injured or killed in a truck accident caused by drivers whose attention were distracted for a split second while changing the radio station.
In this new era of technology, drivers are bombarded with many more potential driving distractions that simply the radio. Whereas vehicle dashboards, for example, used to simply display information such as gearshift position, speed, and how much gas was left in the tank, today microprocessors make it possible to display much more information digitally, and provide an array of sensors that light up, make a noise or even talk to the driver.
Vehicle consoles, like dashboards, used to be simple. Whereas the console previously had a radio station with five or six stations, many of today’s vehicles are equipped with satellite radio, which has thousands of stations to choose from.
Indeed, the console has become a multitude of technical gadgets, from 6-disc CD changers and DVD players, to satellite radio and navigation systems. Many new cars are now equipped with either permanent or portable GPS devices, which often focus the driver’s attention away from the road to the dashboard.
Changing tracks on a CD, changing CDs, changing satellite stations and listening to the navigation system talk you through turn-by-turn directions all demand attention. And that demand for attention means there is less attention available to concentrate on driving.
As more research is done on distracted driving, let’s remember that it is not just the driver bringing in distractions like a cell phone, there are distractions already built into the vehicle. Vehicle manufacturers must be mindful that incorporating too many technological distractions into their vehicles may result in catastrophic consequences for their drivers.
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