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Fun New Car Gadgets or Deadly Driving Distractions?

Modern beige and black interior of modern car, close-up details | Deadly Driving Distractions?While it is true that technology has presented car owners with a dizzying array of great choices, in some instances those nifty technology gadgets can put your life in jeopardy. Consider voice recognition technology which was supposed to allow our nation of multi-taskers to continue those dangerous behaviors when behind the wheel—in a safer manner. Unfortunately, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has concluded that hands-free technology is still quite dangerous. In other words, “hands-free” is a far cry from “risk-free.” In fact, voice recognition doesn’t work far more often than it does work, particularly for those who have any accent at all, whether an Australian accent, a Texas accent, or a New York accent. Most drivers are far-from-amused when they are attempting to make a call or enter a destination on their car’s navigational system, and find that cars simply are not as smart as smartphones.

Voice Recognition Could Be One of the Greatest Driving Hazards

Nearly one in four drivers in the United States use voice recognition daily in their vehicle, while a bit more than half of all U.S. drivers use voice recognition at least once per week. The auto industry believes 68 million vehicles across the globe will have voice controls by 2020, up 84 percent since 2014. Microphones are currently placed mostly in the ceilings of automobiles as well as in rearview mirrors and in the driver’s seat. Car companies are fiddling with the placement of the microphones in order to see if placement could be a factor in the car’s inability to understand the driver.

Vocabularies in the voice recognition systems are being expanded—presently systems have about two million words, up from 500,000 just a few short years ago. Ford and Mercedes-Benz are re-engineering systems in order to allow drivers to speak an entire address, rather than inputting the city, then the street address, then the house number, and many are hooking their vehicles up directly to the Internet. Industry experts believe within a few short years, your car’s dashboard will actually initiate a conversation with the driver, reminding the driver of appointments, etc.

Unfortunately, about one-in-five problems reported by new car owners involved voice recognition systems, followed by audio issues and navigation issues. When voice recognition goes wrong, the driver takes his or her eyes—and possibly hands—away from the task of driving, in order to “fix” the problem. The removal of eyes from the road and hands from the wheel can result in a fatal roadway accident. Other new car options which may prove to be deadly driving distractions include the following:

  • Flashing “eco” lights. Most of us have been programmed to consider a flashing light in our vehicle a signal that something is terribly wrong. Some of the newer cars implement a flashing “eco” light which tells you when you are not driving economically enough, and some drivers say it is the worst idea ever. Anything that causes your attention to shift from the road and the drivers around you is not a good idea.
  • Some cars now come equipped with a “comfort” steering mode (artificially light), or a “sport” steering mode (artificially heavy). Both are really bad ideas for your average driver. When the steering mode automatically changes, your average driver is going to look away from the road, down to the car’s panel, in an attempt to figure out what has gone wrong with the car. Once again, the driver’s attention is not on the road and other drivers.
  • Lane departure warnings are considered by many to be technology we don’t need on our vehicles. After all, those who feel they need a lane departure warning possibly should not be driving in the first place, plus the lane-departure assist can be extremely distracting to the average driver, particularly when the technology gets it wrong, and you were not departing from your lane at all.
  • Some newer cars, in an attempt to lure James Bond fans, have even added night vision cameras to their vehicles. While the concept may sound like a good idea, in reality, the display is on the dash (yes, once again, forcing you to take your eyes away from where they should be, particularly at night—the road).
  • The social media integration could well be the most ridiculous—and dangerous—feature being built into new vehicles. Every driver should be aware that posting to Twitter, Facebook, or other forms of social media should wait until you are not behind the wheel of a vehicle, with the potential to kill yourself or others.

The bottom line? When you drive, do nothing but drive. Keep your attention focused on the road and on other drivers. If your car is packed with new, fun technology, keep it turned off until you are completely stopped.

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Contact Our Denver Car Accident Lawyers

Denver Personal Injury Attorneys Fuicelli & Lee, PCNo matter how safe your car is – accidents unfortunately still happen. They can occur at any time – and to anyone. When you or someone you love is injured in a car accident, the steps you take immediately following your accident can significantly impact your ability to file a claim. Before reaching any settlement with the insurance company, give us a call. Contact the Denver car accident law firm of Fuicelli & Lee, PC, for a free case evaluation. You pay nothing unless you receive a financial settlement or award. Call our office at 303-355-7202 or fill out our confidential contact form.





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