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Car manufacturers distracted by devices

Distracted driving causes 3,500 fatalities and 390,000 injuries in motor vehicle accidents in this country each year. While Indiana and other states have outlawed distractions as texting and driving, manufacturers have installed features in their vehicles, which may have contributed to this problem.

Manufacturers are not the best judge of in-vehicle technology, according to a recent study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. A multitude of buttons, touch screens, gesture and voice controls and displays have confounded many motorists. They also assume that driving while using these devices is safe because of their installation in the vehicle.

The study's researchers found that Apple's CarPlay and Google's Android Auto took seconds off the time that the driver was distracted in comparison to the infotainment systems originally installed in the vehicle. Drivers were able to return their attention to the road 5 seconds faster when making a call and 15 seconds quicker when using these after-installed system.

Taking eye off the road for only 2 seconds increases the risk of car accidents. Reading a text message diverts attention from driving for almost 4½ seconds.

Distracted driving from all sources continues to be a major problem. A poll conducted by Root Insurance Co. in April indicated that 80 percent of responding drivers acknowledged using a mobile device, a third admitted that texting was one of their major driving distractions, 25 percent said they used social media and 20 percent claimed they used their phone every 30 minutes while they were driving.

Motorists justify this behavior. Almost half of respondents in a State Farm Insurance survey said that talking on the phone while driving was an efficient use of their time and 33 percent said that they texted while driving to keep in touch with the families.

Daydreaming was involved in 61 percent of deadly distracted driving car accidents. Use of personal electronic devices for texting and talking was responsible for 14 percent. Talking with passengers, adjusting other devices and eating fell below 10 percent.

Despite it recognition of Apple's and Google's devices, AAA made no recommendations. None of these after-installation systems met their requirement of being no more distracting as listening to the radio.

While use of personal electronic devices is generally illegal, motorists will continue to engage in this conduct. Accidents victims should seek legal assistance to help gather evidence and commence a lawsuit.

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