In-Vehicle Infotainment & Risk of Distracted Driving Collisions in the Carolinas

A South Carolina woman was recently killed in a wreck on I-16 in Georgia when a teen behind the wheel of a Jeep reportedly drifted into her lane. Although investigators are still exploring the cause of the accident, it’s suspected that distracted driving may be to blame.
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Meanwhile, as if we don’t have enough distractions in our vehicles, including cell phones, music systems and children, our Spartanburg car accident lawyers note the the in-vehicle infotainment industry is set to expand in 2014 – much to the chagrin of leaders with the National Safety Council.

The infotainment industry was estimated to be around $35 billion in 2012 – and it’s growing. If you aren’t familiar, in-vehicle infotainment is comprised of technological devices installed directly into automobiles that provides audio and/or visual entertainment, as well as navigation systems, video games and internet search functions. All of this might be great, were it not for the fact that the average user is supposed to be safely operating a two-ton motor vehicle at the same time.

Ford recently made news for the announcement that its latest model of vehicles will feature Blackberry infotainment systems (as opposed to Microsoft, which had originally been developing the software). The liquid crystal display dashboard will allow drivers to operate the audio, climate control, GPS and Bluetooth-enabled devices, as well as make phone calls using voice commands.

Then there’s the partnership of Samsung and Tata Motors, an Indian carmaker planning to launch the “Drive Link Application,” which will allow drivers to make and answer calls, change the music and access the Internet – all behind the wheel.

And then Honda just unveiled its 2015 Honda Fit model, which comes equipped standard with an infotainment system that allows users to pair their smartphone functions to the interface, as well as engage in navigation and music selection from the driver’s seat.

While tech reporters drone on about all of the latest features, very few are touching on the serious safety threat these systems present.

That’s why the Senior Director of Transportation Initiatives at the National Safety Council, speaking recently at a day-long summit on technological solutions to distracted driving, focused on the dangers these systems create.

It’s the NSC’s stance that these systems create unnecessary distractions for drivers. It makes it very easy for drivers to send and receive text messages, e-mails, engage in social media, make phone calls and plug in navigation queries. Each and every one of these tasks has the propensity to take the driver’s eyes off the road.

Manufacturers of these systems contend that by making these tasks easier for the driver, they are making them safer. But there is no proof of this, and the reality is, even a second’s-worth of distraction could cost a life.

It’s been established that about 9 out of 10 motor vehicle crashes are due to driver error and inattention. It makes little sense that we would add to the availability of distractions.

As the NSC’s senior director was quoted as saying:

“…Driving a vehicle is not the right time or place to do anything not related to driving.”

For this reason, he urged the auto industry to limit the installation of infotainment systems. Although some auto manufacturers already prevent moving video from being viewed by drivers while the vehicle is in motion, there is a lot more than could be done.

For starters, the NCS suggests creating a function whereby parents, employers or even drivers themselves could disable infotainment systems if they so chose.

If you have been injured in a car accident, contact the South Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices today by calling 800-887-1965.

Additional Resources:
NSC distracted driving expert speaks out on dangers of infotainment systems, Feb. 6, 2014, Press Release, National Safety Council

More Blog Entries:
AAA Officials Study Driver Distractions and Accident Risks, Jan. 14, 2014, Spartanburg Car Accident Lawyer Blog

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