A new study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has found that senior citizens in particular are struggling with technology that is built into the dashboards of many cars. According to a CBS news report, this type of distraction increases accident risk for seniors. These so-called infotainment systems have made it easier to find a favorite song or navigate to an unknown address.
What the Study Found
However, the AAA study finds that these screens can be extremely distracting, particularly for older drivers because they shift their attention back and forth from driving to the screen. This practice could get very risky if they are taking particularly long glances at the screens, experts say. Researchers found that during the tests, drivers 55 and older were up to eight seconds slower than millennials while using functions such as calling and navigation.
This added time could be dangerous because removing your eyes from the road for just two seconds can double the risk of a crash. The touchscreens are not the only problem. Even vehicle voice commands, which are meant to keep a driver’s eyes on the road, can prove distracting because they can cause frustration when the commands are not recognized. Safety experts recommend pulling over to the side of the road if such technology gets distracting.
They recommend that many of these in-vehicle tasks including programming navigation should be done before drivers start their cars. Safety advocates are also encouraging car companies to change infotainment systems to make them less distracting. AAA says that more than a fifth of drivers on U.S. roads will be 65 or older by 2030.
Preventing Distracted Driving
Regardless of age, there are steps every driver can and should take in order to prevent distracted driving accidents. Studies show that in the time that you take your eyes off the road for 4 to 5 seconds, you can drive your car through the entire length of a football field. When you take your hands off the wheel, eyes off the road and attention away from the act of driving, the risk of a crash increases exponentially.
It is important that drivers take several steps in order to prevent in-vehicle distractions:
- Set navigation, radio, temperature, and other controls before you commence your trip. Don’t fiddle with any of these controls after you start driving.
- Put away your cell phone and electronics in a place where you cannot access them. Out of sight, out of mind.
- If you must make a call, send a text or check your email, make sure you pull over to a safe location and do so.
- Make use of smartphone apps, which will automatically let callers know that you are driving and will call them later.
If you or a loved one has been injured as the result of a distracted driver, you may be able to receive compensation for your injuries, damages and losses. An experienced California car accident lawyer will be able to better advise you regarding your legal rights and options.