Most Michigan residents are aware that using a cellphone while behind the wheel is dangerous, but they may be surprised to learn that modern vehicle information and entertainment systems can be even more distracting. Many of these systems are operated by touchscreens rather than buttons or dials, which can make performing simple tasks, such as selecting a different radio station, take up to eight times as long.
Slower response times
Researchers from the Transport Research Laboratory made this discovery after noticing that drivers took 57% longer to react to unexpected situations when they used touchscreens to operate information and entertainment systems. Drivers talking on cellphones took 46% longer to respond, and using a mobile device to send text messages delayed reaction times by 35%. The study also revealed that distraction can be more dangerous than impairment. Drug intoxication reduced reaction times by 21%, and being legally drunk slowed response times by 12% according to researchers.
Most road safety experts believe that driver distraction is an underreported problem. Official figures suggest that only about a third of motor vehicle accidents are caused by distracted drivers, but independent studies have linked the problem to 93% of rear-end collisions. Automobile manufacturers do not appear to be taking these studies seriously as they continue to introduce cars with larger and larger screens. Mercedes-Benz recently unveiled an electric sedan with a touchscreen 56 inches wide.
Distracted driving lawsuits
Road users injured by distracted drivers may want to pursue compensation by filing car accident lawsuits. Experienced personal injury attorneys may be able to gather evidence of distraction by reading police reports and obtaining cellphone records from wireless service providers. Attorneys may also check to see if the car involved had a black box-type device under the hood that could reveal whether or not its driver took evasive action before impact.