If you’re looking for a habit to give up in the New Year, cutting out phone Apps while driving (even when not texting) may be a good place to start. There are plenty of well-intentioned Apps with functions that may help drivers, like Waze, which rewards drivers for reporting traffic jams and accidents, or a Snapchat feature that allows drivers to record the speed of their vehicle. Snapchat has been linked to several accidents however, and according to the New York Times, insurance companies who track accident data are reporting a link between accidents and the use of electronic devices. The built-in voice-recognition solutions in newer cars that allow drivers to do more and more hands-free may even be adding mental clutter to the driving experience rather than promoting safety. Using GPS and features like Tesla’s auto-pilot mode may create a false sense of safety and control which actually distracts drivers from keeping their focus on immediate hazards.
Texting and calling while driving has long been accepted as a dangerous distraction, and hands-free technology has evolved to meet the challenge. But in 2016, the problem continues to present new challenges. The New York Times reports that a startling increase in highway fatalities in 2015 — the biggest annual percentage increase in 50 years — built into an even bigger problem in the first 6 months of 2016, a jump of 10.4 percent in highway deaths from the comparable period in 2015. Electronic devices in general create so many opportunities for distraction that it may be a good idea to keep any kind of use while driving simple and streamlined. On the one hand, most cars don’t have the kind of digital hands-free technology that newer ones do (meaning that accidents still may be attributed to checking apps on a physical device). On the other hand there doesn’t seem to be a lot of evidence so far to suggest that digital hands-free technology reduces dangerous distraction.
The Department of Transportation was so alarmed by the latest statistics that they announced plans to work with the National Safety Council and other groups to come up with a plan to eliminate roadway fatalities within 30 years. Drivers might want to start participating early by keeping their digital distractions to a minimum.
If you or a loved one has been harmed because of distracted driving, please contact the attorneys at Valanzola Law Group. We handle a broad range of cases large and small. We will know all aspects of your case and work with you to provide a personalized solution to your legal needs.