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Car information technology found to be distracting

Kentucky residents who are in the market for a new car have a dizzying array of options to choose from, including elaborate information and entertainment systems. Some of these systems can handle phone calls and text messaging, play music or DVDs and provide motorists with turn-by-turn driving directions, but they can also cause dangerous cognitive and visual distractions and greatly increase the likelihood of an accident according to a study.

The University of Utah conducted the study on behalf of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, and it involved recording how long individuals took to complete a variety of tasks on the entertainment and information systems of 30 new cars, crossovers and SUVs. These individuals used voice commands and touch screen inputs to compose and send text messages, enter destination addresses, make phone calls and change radio stations, and the researchers found that some of these tasks caused distractions of up to 40 seconds.

Previous studies have concluded that the risk of being in a car accident doubles when drivers allow their eyes to wander away from the road in front of them for as little as two seconds, and the researchers behind this study say that auto manufacturers should concentrate their energies on safety and not features that could make their vehicles more dangerous. However, consumers tend to vote with their feet on such issues, and sales figures suggest that vehicles equipped with the latest technology are more likely to be able to carve out a niche for themselves in an increasingly crowded and competitive market.

Distracted drivers sometimes drift into the path of oncoming vehicles and lose their lives in catastrophic head-on collisions, and those who survive the accidents they cause may face years behind bars for their negligent behavior. Reckless individuals who have been killed or incarcerated are unable to make restitution to their victims, but experienced personal injury attorneys could initiate litigation against their auto insurance providers or estates on behalf of those who have been harmed.

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