AAA study reveals dangers of car infotainment systems

Distracted driving is just as much a problem in Texas as it is in other states. Unfortunately, some new technologies are only making matters worse. A recent AAA study shows that infotainment systems are especially problematic. Researchers at the University of Utah analyzed 30 such systems for AAA, all of them on new 2017 vehicles from makers like Toyota, Honda, Ford, Dodge and Tesla. Seven of the systems required a moderate level of attention, 11 a high level and 12 a very high level.

Participants in the study were drivers aged 21 to 36; they were asked to use the various infotainment features, such as calling, texting and programming navigation, while on the road. Researchers noted that the participants would often swerve out of their lanes, ignore stop signs, drive far below the speed limit and engage in other unsafe behavior.

Of all the features, GPS use and texting were the most dangerous, causing drivers to be mentally and visually distracted for over 40 seconds. By way of comparison, previous research shows that looking away from the road for only 2 seconds will double the risk for a car crash.

Researchers argue that manufacturers are not selective enough in their choice of features, many of which are irrelevant to driving. Many infotainment systems are not fully tested, nor are they easy to navigate for those unaccustomed to complex technology.

When all is said and done, though, drivers who let their technology distract them will be held liable for any motor vehicle accidents they cause. Victims who are less than 51 percent at fault can file personal injury claims. A lawyer could evaluate a case, strengthen it with the help of investigators and negotiate for a settlement.

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