NHTSA Study Shows That In-Dash Car Apps May Increase Distracted Driver Car Accidents in Upstate and Western New York

Carmakers are racing to install the most sophisticated dashboard applications and connectivity into their 2013 models, and regulators are not happy. They believe in-dash systems will spark a whole new surge of distracted driver car accidents across the nation, which could far outweigh texting while driving accident injuries and fatalities due to the wide range of tempting new driver distractions they’ll present.

The New York Times recently reported that car manufacturers are doing all they can to entice car buyers who want to stay as connected as possible while on the road. Many 2013 car models will have Internet-based systems installed and the ability to connect smartphones to dashboard technology. This will allow drivers to do everything from booking theater seats and plane tickets to making hotel reservations and scanning dining reviews.

Upstate and western New York personal injury attorney James Morris doesn’t agree with car companies who insist that in-dash options are safer than hand-held devices, as they will add mental distractions on top of taking drivers’ hands off the wheel. Not only will drivers have more screens on which to type in search phrases, their minds will be all-too aware of the simple reality that they can get so much done, so to speak, while driving at high speeds. And that’s a subliminal distraction that can result in distracted driver fatalities.

The National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration said in its February 2012 report on Driver Distractions Guidelines for in-vehicle electronic devices that it considers even the most basic navigation devices as interfering “inherently with a driver’s ability to safely control the vehicle.” The report says up to 17% of the police-reported accidents in the United States in 2010 were driver distraction crashes, which is nearly or 900,000.

By allowing drivers on the road with so many more electronic and communications options, entirely new types of distracted driver car crash injuries will be added to a list that already includes texting car accidents and cellphone car wrecks, such as Facebooking rear-enders, Tweeting roll-overs and GPS user head-ons.

The NHTSA’s report includes several strong recommendations. One is that automakers shut down any dashboard functions that require drivers to take their eyes off the road for over two seconds. The 177-page report also suggests making illegal any keyboarding involving more than six button presses per task, along with the use of over 30 characters of text on a an dashboard screen.

Despite the lengthy study and stern opinions, NHTSA Driver Distractions Guidelines is not fueling any new legislation about distracted driving laws. The report says evidence of some distractions is “not sufficient at this time to permit accurate estimation of the benefits and costs of a mandatory rule” regarding such a wide range of electronically connected car systems. In addition, technology hardware, software and services are changing rapidly that any new regulations would likely become obsolete before being enforceable. It’s a frustrating equation but citizens and regulators alike must fight for tough distracted driver laws, in order to protect everyone on the road from people who drive recklessly due to in-dash electronic devices.

If you or a loved one suffered a distracted driver injury, find out how an experienced upstate and western New York personal injury lawyer can help you fight for your rights. Call the Law Offices of James Morris for a free consultation at 1-800-477-9044 or complete our online contact form.

James Morris Law
1015 Liberty Building, 424 Main Street
Buffalo, NY 14202


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