The Technology of Distraction

Back in the 1930s, two states unsuccessfully attempted to ban radios from cars. Opponents argued that the popular technology distracted drivers and disturbed the peace, while radio manufacturers pointed out their usefulness as warning systems and sleep-combating devices. The manufacturers won, and by 1946, radios were found in nine million cars. Yet those against them weren’t entirely wrong. A 2002 study found that fiddling with the radio was a distraction in over two-thirds of 43,000 fatal car accidents. The role of smartphones in vehicle accidents is even greater. In 2014, it was determined that cell phones were involved in 26 percent of ALL motor vehicles crashes. Whether hands-free or not, using a mobile phone takes concentration that reduces a driver’s ability to focus on the task of driving. In fact, 14 states prohibit all drivers from using hand-held cell phones and 46 states ban text messaging for all drivers because the cognitive, visual, and manual demands of smartphones put safe driving at risk. As if texting and talking weren’t enough, smartphones now offer even more ways for drivers who can’t put them down to get in a wreck. A North Carolina woman updated her Facebook profile while driving in 2014, and one minute after the post, police were called to the scene of her fatal car accident. A Maine man crashed into a tree in 2015 while leaning over to be in a selfie with his passengers, injuring several of them. A Georgia teen allegedly reached speeds of 107 miles per hour while distracted by taking selfies with Snapchat’s speed filter, which awards users a virtual trophy for posting pics showing off their speed. The teen’s car rear-ended another, leaving that driver with serious brain injuries. Pokémon Go has captured the attention of just about everyone, and people seem to want to play it everywhere. Essentially a hunt-and-capture game that has very few limits, it has resulted in police officers around the world issuing tickets to drivers looking at this game on their phones rather than looking at the road. In one of many accidents, a New York man ran his car into a tree while distracted by the app. In an attempt to improve safety, the makers of the game have released two updates that are supposedly to make it more difficult to play while behind the wheel. There are many more examples and many emerging technologies out there. For one, the popularity of Apple’s iWatch and similar smartwatches present new challenges since they offer many of the same opportunities for distraction as smartphones. However, we all are responsible for our own behavior and, to avoid tragedy, drivers must fight the urge to post real-time photos and commentary or play a game while operating a vehicle. Distracted driving is neither defensive nor offensive. It’s indifference. And that’s dangerous for everyone on the road. Smartphones, apps, and smartwatches are just some of today’s technology that can distract motorists from the task of driving. If you have been injured in a Kentucky wreck involving a distracted driver, or if you have any questions about this topic, you can find out more by discussing it with one of the personal injury attorneys at the Johnson Law Firm. We have years of experience helping people, and we can help you. Based in Pikeville, KY, we proudly serve communities throughout the Bluegrass State. Contact us by calling 1-855-433-7534 or filling out our online form.

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