Turn off the car's infotainment system

A lot of new cars are amazing pieces of technology -- with integrated "infotainment" features that were unimaginable only a few years ago.

Unfortunately, research done by AAA indicates that the infotainment systems in many modern cars are taking drivers' attention away from the task of driving for as much as 40 seconds at a time -- and sometimes more! Given that it only takes two seconds of inattention to double the likelihood of a crash, this is an unbelievably frightening statistic.

What causes drivers to be so distracted, despite their own better instincts and the knowledge that they really need to keep their eyes on the road? In general, it's the complexity of all that technology. Trying to program the navigational system or send a text via voice command can get frustrating quickly if the technology doesn't work as expected. Touch screens, naturally, always require drivers to look away from the road in order to operate them -- so they don't help the problem.

When the study looked at 30 different vehicles that were produced in 2017, researchers found that 23 of the infotainment systems put a high demand on a driver's mental resources. Across the vehicles as a whole, programming a car's navigation system was the hardest for drivers to complete. That's disturbing, given the likelihood that it's the No. 1 feature many drivers would likely want to use. However, infotainment systems now offer a whole plethora of distractions for drivers, including things like the ability to search the web, send email and text messages, even check Facebook -- all while the car is in motion.

For safety's sake, experts say that infotainment systems should never be more complicated or demanding on a driver than listening to a radio. Instead, they equated the average infotainment system in new vehicles to be akin to balancing a checkbook while behind the wheel in their level of complexity.

What's the best possible solution to the problem? Most car accident attorneys would probably suggest that you simply turn your own car's infotainment system off until the technology gets a lot easier to use. That's the best possible way to avoid causing an accident.

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Vincent J. DeSalvo, Attorney at Law
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