By: Jeffrey Lapin

An article within Consumer Reports’ October 2011 issue (Connected cars: A new risk) discusses the risks, by diverting the driver’s attention to something other than driving, posed by new technology, such as the ability to text, tweet, access the internet, in many new cars and trucks. The article discusses the types of equipment available now or in the very near future that can cause driver distraction, which, increases the risks of a collision. These features include the ability to send text or email messages or listen to text messages, emails, Twitter and Facebook postings. Essentially, vehicles are becoming more “connected.”

In addition, interior controls within vehicles, even for features that have been around for decades, have also become much more complex. This added complexity requires more of the driver’s attention thus increasing the risk of a distraction and an accident. For example, in some of the vehicles Consumer Reports tested, changing to a particular radio station may involve 5 to 6 steps and could take up to 10 seconds. Moreover, the displays in vehicles now contain a lot more information and may control certain features in the vehicle, which makes the display more important but, depending on the design, can be difficult to read or navigate.

The Consumer Reports article notes that driver distraction due to “new technology” has been around for a very long time. In 1937, the October Consumer Reports issue discusses “in-dash radios”, which were just starting to be put in automobiles. A  statement within the 1937 articles holds true now just as it did then, “The driver should bear in mind at all times that his [the driver’s] primary responsibility is for safe operation of his [the] car.”

Automakers and federal lawmakers have been primarily focused on protecting occupants of a vehicle after an accident has occurred. States have increased efforts to reduce drunk driving and prohibiting the use of hand-held devices in an effort to try and prevent accident. However, all of these entities have tended to overlook the obvious: how new vehicle features and controls have increased the likelihood of a driver being distracted, which, in turn, will lead to more accidents.

At Lapin Law Offices we believe that technology is good when it assists a driver. We all enjoy the added benefits of new features on our vehicles. Some of these do help prevent driver distraction. However, automobile manufactures and lawmakers should not let safety be compromised for mere convenience or entertainment.

Other articles and items we have posted about distracted driving:

Alarming Statistics Regarding Distracted Driving
“Heads Up Driving Week”: October 2-8, 2011
Drivers Understand But Often Ignore Risks of Texting or Talking on Cell Phone
Texting Doubles a Driver’s Reaction Time According To New Study