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Are You Driving a Distracting Car?

navigation-1726067_640.jpgMany newer cars are equipped with in-dash entertainment and information screens that are designed to make driving easier and safer, but these features may create deadly distractions for drivers. In an era when distracted driving is claiming an increasing number of lives, motorists should be acutely aware of the dangers of taking their eyes off the road.

Distracted Driving Deaths in America

The number of distracted driving deaths in America is on the rise. In 2015, 3,477 victims died in distracted driving accidents. This was an 8.8% increase over the number killed in 2014. It is a number that's almost as high as the number of people killed in drunk driving accidents. More than 9 people are killed and nearly 1,000 more are injured each day by a distracted driver. 

The Risks of Infotainment

Most new vehicles are equipped with touch-screen systems that give drivers the ability to control navigation systems, the radio, climate control, the phone, and other systems. These "infotainment" systems are very distracting. According to AAA's studies on distracted driving, these systems create moderate to high levels of distraction.

Using infotainment systems can take a driver's attention away from the road for a few seconds or up to a minute depending on the task. Certain tasks such as programming the directions into the GPS can take between 45 seconds to a minute to complete. In a vehicle traveling just 25 mph, a distance of more than four football fields is covered in that time. This creates significant risk for motorists and pedestrians who could find themselves in the path of a vehicle with a driver who is not paying attention to the road ahead.

Using Vehicle Systems Responsibly

Certain tasks such as programming the GPS or setting the climate control should never be performed while the vehicle is in motion. These tasks should be completed before the vehicle is put into gear. Motorists can further reduce their risk by allowing passengers in the front seat to operate these devices while the vehicle is moving. It is a step that could save a considerable number of lives each year. Further, drivers shouldn't lull themselves into thinking that voice-controlled systems are safer. These systems can create as many mental distractions as those that require manual manipulation. 

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