A study performed by AAA may help explain the line of “looked but did not see” that often appears in Missouri accident reports. The study found that the growing number of hands-free infotainment systems included in vehicles pose a significant danger in the form of distracted driving. The official recommendation, which was delivered by AAA officials, calls for limits on speech-operated devices to only those necessary for drivers. Other voices in the automobile industry have contested this recommendation.
Researchers measured brain activity, behind-the-wheel performance, eye movements and other variables among 32 college students in simulation, actual driving and stationary environments. They discovered that speaking to a computer may increase the risk of car accidents beyond speaking on a hand-held phone, having discussions with an occupant in the vehicle and listening to music or books on tape. The researchers explained that an increase in distraction with speech-operated devices actually stems from the concentration required to comprehend and accurately speak to a computer.
The problem is described as “inattention blindness.” This phenomenon causes drivers to fix on a single point and could lead to an increase in auto accidents. The loss of concentration means the driver will lapse in scans of the road and fail to check mirrors as often. An increase from the current nine million to 62 million autos on the road by 2018 is expected, according to a AAA spokeswoman.
With an automobile accident, drivers may be subject to both criminal and civil claims. Whether or not a driver is found to be at fault by the police investigation, they may file a civil claim for damages. Evidence of inattentive driving due to use of speech-operated devices may be used in such a claim. Those who feel they were harmed by another’s negligence may contact an experienced car accident attorney for assistance.
Source: Yahoo News, “Hands-free texting still distracting for drivers,” Joan Lowy, June 12, 2013