Hands-free systems do not eliminate driver distraction

Two new studies discovered that infotainment systems can cause drivers to become severely cognitively distracted.

Distracted driving is a serious threat to drivers in Georgia and throughout the rest of the country. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than nine people are killed and over 1,000 are injured every day in auto accidents caused by a distracted driver. Although many drivers believe that using an infotainment system in their vehicle prevents them from becoming distracted, two recent studies reveal that this isn't necessarily the case.

Infotainment systems still cause problems for drivers

According to Fox News, these studies show that while infotainment systems allow drivers to make phone calls, change the radio station or send a text message without using their hands, many of them are susceptible to errors that cause the driver to become more focused on the task they are trying to complete than on the road in front of them.

To come to this conclusion, one these studies had participants test the infotainment systems in vehicles from some of the most common auto brands in three different settings. These included the following:

  • A driving simulator
  • A laboratory
  • A neighborhood in Salt Lake City with other cars on the road

Then, each system was rated on a scale of one to five, with five being the most distracting and three being the least distracting to drivers. Of all the systems tested, those that received the worst ratings based on this scale were the ones that made mistakes, even if the driver gave clear, concise and audible instructions. For example, in one of these tests, the infotainment system called 911 instead of the number the driver requested.

What distracted driving really is

Despite these findings, many drivers believe that using these infotainment systems in their vehicle is safe because they are not picking up their cellphone as they travel down the road. However, the CDC defines distracted driving as any activity that takes a driver's attention away from driving.

Since these infotainment systems cause drivers to take their minds off of driving to send an email, dial a friend or change to the radio station, they can be considered a form of cognitive distraction. In addition to cognitive distraction, the two other forms of distraction are visual and manual. A driver can become visually distracted when they take their eyes off of the road in front of them and manually distracted when they take their hands off of the steering wheel.

Drivers who become manually, visually or cognitively distracted elevate their chance of causing injurious rear-end collisions and other serious types of car accidents. If you were injured in a collision caused by a negligent driver, consult with an attorney who can help you determine which legal steps you should take next.

Keywords: distracted, driving, accident, injury