The modern world is stuffed with electronic devices, and the auto interior is no exception. Computers are vital components of vehicle operating and monitoring systems. Cars now offer a GPS navigation system as standard equipment. Other electronics include radios or CD players, climate controls, and adapters for cellular phones. While these devices are designed to increase comfort and safety for drivers and passengers, they actually often have the opposite effect. Drivers are dangerously distracted by all the gadgets that are intended to enhance the driving experience.
As if the pre-installed devices aren’t enough distraction, many drivers bring more equipment into the car with them. Various cell phones and iPods are used by drivers while the car is in motion. Use of electronic devices while driving is a preventable hazard that must be stopped.
In 2009, 1,000 fatality accidents were caused by drivers texting while driving. Inexperienced drivers are particularly at risk of causing accidents while texting. They are heavy users of texting technology, and lack the experience and skills to successfully drive while distracted. However, drivers of every age are guilty of texting while the car is moving.
Cell phone usage while driving is another huge distraction on today’s roads. Although the physical act of holding a cell phone is a distraction, the primary problem with talking on the phone while driving is the act of carrying on a conversation. It is very difficult to pay attention to the road and to a conversation at the same time, particularly if the conversation is heated or upsetting. Using a hands-free device does not necessarily lessen the distraction factor of speaking on the phone while driving and caution is required!
The GPS is yet another typical device that may take the driver’s attention off the road. If the verbal direction feature is engaged, the driver is distracted listening to and following the directions. Many people also look at the map screen to confirm the vocal instructions, or they turn off the vocal feature and rely on the screen. Looking at a small busy screen, even for a few moments, is dangerous and can cause accidents. Unfortunately, many people also program their GPS devices while the car is moving, which creates another hazard.
Searching through music or other audio files also distracts too many drivers. It doesn’t matter whether the music is located on a smart phone, iPod, car radio or other device. Changing stations, songs or CDs takes the driver’s eyes off the highway and their hands away from the steering wheel.
Even the climate controls and warning lights and gauges distract drivers from paying attention. Whether the safety indicators are lighted icons or audio tones, the driver’s attention is moved from driving conditions to the source of the warning. Adjusting temperature controls also takes focus away from the road.
Although many distracted behaviors have been outlawed, this creates a new hazard as drivers work to avoid being caught. Education about the dangers of distracted driving is the only real solution.
[Info from an article submitted by Abby Carson]
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