In a world that is brimming with new technology, most people have become dependent on smartphones and texting as a vital lifeline for communication. We demand our technology be quick and efficient, pushing the bounds of convenience to new levels. Whether you’re at home, at work or in the car, Bay Area residents are addicted to on-demand technology and communication. This has become such a safety issue, in fact, that it eventually led to the ban of texting while driving in an effort to reduce car accidents.
With that law in place, most car companies began clamoring to find new tech-savvy solutions that would help drivers stay in contact with their friends and families on the go…while staying legal at the same time. Where there’s a will, there’s a way, right? Enter the new wave of in-car voice-recognition technology.
Driver Distraction and Technology
After some testing, car manufacturers were able to come up with cutting-edge voice-activated applications for new vehicles. Drivers were suddenly able to call, text, email and surf the web…all while keeping both hands safely and legally placed on the steering wheel. Through simply speaking, these applications allow for hands-free communication instead of typing on a smartphone. In some of the newest high-end luxury vehicles, drivers can access personal home computers, download an automaker’s apps, text message multiple people at one time, direct the application to read incoming text messages aloud or immediately reply to a text or email. If you can’t afford a luxury car, that’s no problem either. Most moderately-priced new vehicles have systems that let you compose a verbal text message by plugging in your iPhone. Unfortunately for automakers, a new study suggests that all these technological wonders may actually be causing a spike in serious automobile accidents around the country.
Released by the Foundation for Traffic Safety, the research study found that even the most advanced voice-activated car technology systems caused increased risks for car accidents. Not only do they cause standard safety issues, they actually created a new breed of problem. While the technology does not physically take your hands away from the steering wheel, it does take your mind completely off the road.
The Safety Dilemma
Naturally, the automakers say that since their devices offer hands-free communications, they are safe. However, earlier this year, the government made its own recommendation to car manufacturers, suggesting they voluntarily limit the amount of technology available in vehicles.
While it’s true that this technology does free up your hands, it’s hard to believe anyone would think this kind of multi-tasking does not lead to distracted driving and serious car accidents. Just think of how much of your attention it requires to dictate an email, or how distracting it is to receive an upsetting text message from a loved one. How could you possibly remain focused on driving when using these speech-to-text applications?
Your brain requires a certain amount of engagement in order to communicate. It doesn’t matter if you are communicating with another person or with an interactive car application, your brain still has to dedicate a large amount of focus on the task at hand. Once your focus is taken off the road and placed on a car’s technology application, you become an impaired driver. Your reaction time is slowed down and you’re not able to process what is happening as you drive.
For drivers in the Bay Area, the best way to remain safe on the road and protect against the risk of serious car accidents is to be a defensive driver. You should always:
- Limit the number of distractions in your own vehicle
- Avoid potentially upsetting conversations or interactions while driving
- Ensure conditions within your car are as safe as possible
- Remain alert and focused on the road at all times
Even though you may do everything right and follow all the safety tips, it doesn’t mean that other Bay Area drivers will do the same. Unfortunately, there are other drivers who may not be as cautious behind the wheel. As a result, increasing numbers of distracted drivers will use voice activated technology while on the road, causing more and more car accidents.
If you’ve been injured in a car accident as a result of someone else’s negligence, reach out to a trusted Bay Area personal injury lawyer. You need to understand your rights, as you may be entitled to seek compensation for your injuries. To schedule your free consultation and case evaluation, contact the San Francisco law offices of Nelson C. Barry at 415-587-0550.