Magana Cathcart & McCarthy

In-Vehicle Entertainment Systems Pose a Serious Distraction to Driving, Even After You Stop Using Them


California bans texting while driving or any handheld use of a cell phone while driving, with fines in the hundreds for a violation, not to mention the risk of causing a serious accident due to distracted driving. Cell phone manufacturers have gone to lengths to incorporate hands-free, voice-activated technology into their devices, as have makers of automobile in-dash infotainment systems. Yet even though it may be legal, hands-free does not mean distraction-free, as a recent study reveals.

The study, conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety in conjunction with the University of Utah, gauged driver distraction when interacting with the in-vehicle entertainment systems on ten different 2015 vehicle models. The distraction scale developed for the study ranged from a score of one to five, where a 1.2 was equivalent to driving while listening to the radio, and  a score of 5 represented the distraction of a driver trying to memorize a list of words and solve a math problem at the same time while driving.

The distraction levels of the cars tested ranged from a 2.6 for the Chevy Equinox up to a 4.6 for the Mazda 6.

Equally alarming was a finding of the study that even after a driver ceased interacting with an in-vehicle infotainment system, the driver remained distracted for an average of 27 seconds, before full attention and focus returned to the road. This is enough time to travel the length of three football fields at just 25 mph – more than enough time to cause a serious car accident due to inattention.

Laws against distracted driving may continue to evolve along with increased awareness about safe driving practices, but they are not likely to match the pace of innovation, as ever-more devices constantly vie for our attention, even when we are driving. Drivers remain responsible to keep their eyes on the road and stay alert and free from distractions, and they remain liable for accidents and injuries caused by their negligence.

If you have been injured in a car accident in southern California because of another motorist’s inattention or distracted driving, call the Los Angeles injury lawyers at Magaña, Cathcart and McCarthy for an evaluation of your claims, at 310-553-6630.

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