Driving Distracted by infotainment centers
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration defines distracted driving as performing any activity that diverts a driver's attention from the task of driving safely. Driving while distracted can dramatically increase any driver's chances of being involved in a serious accident. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nine people die every day in distracted driving accidents. More than 1,000 others are injured.
10 Taps and 10 Seconds
Vehicle infotainment centers evolved as a result of driver demands to have every tool available to help them navigate roads, entertain the driver and any passengers and even work while driving. What comes to issue is that completing a task on an infotainment center can take 10 or more taps on the console screen, even if the driver is proficient at performing that task. At best, those 10 taps can translate into a driver's eyes being off of the road for a total of 10 seconds or more. As per the Virginia Tech Traffic Safety Institute, at 55 mph, that translates into a driver traveling the length of two football fields with his or her eyes closed. Infotainment centers add another dimension to distracted driving, especially when government agencies, law enforcement and vehicle manufacturers themselves have been warning drivers for many years about the dangers of using cellular devices while driving.
Types of Driver Distraction
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has determined that there are three different types of driver distractions. Those are:
- Visual is when drivers take their eyes off of the road.
- Manual is when drivers take one or both of their hands off of the steering wheel.
- Cognitive is when a driver's brain focuses on something other than the task at hand which is to safely operate a motor vehicle.
The AAA Study
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety studied advanced motor vehicle infotainment centers, and it concluded that these systems pose a clear and dangerous risk of distraction for anybody using them while operating a motor vehicle. The systems were found to be cognitively strenuous to operate, and they required detailed visual focus. The study concluded that the more complex the infotainment center, the more dangerous it is for drivers. What took the attention of drivers from the road for the longest time was programming an infotainment center's navigational system. Drivers averaged 40 seconds of visual and cognitive distraction to perform that task.
There are no laws specifying what options an automaker is prohibited from including in an infotainment center. Unless you're off the road, and your transmission is in park, it's strongly recommended that drivers not engage in any of the following distractions:
- Talking on a mobile phone or texting.
- Inputting information into a navigational device.
- Selecting entertainment options.
- Using social media.
- Watching DVDs or any other videos.
Always remember that distractions from infotainment systems aren't only dangerous for you and your passengers. You're risking the safety of everybody around you too. Use your infotainment system safely and responsibly.
Have you been involved in an accident with a distracted driver?
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