Hands-Free Vehicle Technologies — Still Causing Car Accidents in Illinois and Elsewhere?

Cars acquire more and more technology every day. Some of this technology proves to help save the lives of pedestrians, like the rear-view cameras, while others many do nothing more than help you to check your Facebook while driving. Either way, these technological advancements are in high demand by consumers nationwide and our vehicles come with more distractions with each passing year.
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David Strickland, the administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, says enough is enough. He says these unnecessary and unsafe technology do nothing more than increase your risks of being involved in a car accident in Illinois or elsewhere in the United States. He recently voiced his opinion on these new technologies at Telematics Detroit 2011. This probably wasn’t the best choice of audience to speak to about this topic as the attendees of this conference only look to enhance the use of such products inside the vehicle. Strickland wants to halt the progression of motor vehicles into rolling infotainment centers.

Our Chicago personal injury attorneys understand the argument. But we also understand the argument of Telematics Detroit 2011. Some of these devices that have been recently introduced to motor vehicles do help to safely navigate on our roadways , like Global Positioning System navigation, automated emergency notification and internal diagnostics. However, there are a number of other new features that many safe driving advocates would argue only take driver attention away from the road, like a number of on-board systems for entertainment and social media.

“I’m just putting everyone on notice,” Strickland said, choosing his words carefully and ironically, “A car is not a mobile device.”

Safe driving advocates refer to the Chevy Cruze ad when speaking about these unsafe technologies now being added to vehicles. This was a commercial that debuted during the Super Bowl. It showed a guy, driving in his car, receiving his Facebook updates. Even though the built in app read them to him while driving, many still believe that the hands-free device is potentially distracting.

The Telematics Conference preaches the exact opposite message, stating that these features make driving easier and safer because people are going to engage in these acts while driving anyways. As a matter of fact, their website title reads, “Telematics is Here to Stay! Take Note of Consumer Demands As the Car Becomes the Ultimate Mobile Device.”

“I’m not in the business of helping people tweet better,” said Strickland. “I’m not in the business of helping people post on Facebook better.”

Most of the new gadgets that are being installed in these cars are indeed hands-free, which is one of their main selling points. Manufacturers claim that they’re only making driving safer because hands-free is a whole lot better than thumbing through your smart-phone while trying to drive.

According to Insurance Institute for Highway Safety studies, hands-free devices may eliminate some of the physical distraction, but not they do nothing to eliminate cognitive distraction. For this reason, the Institute says that drivers on the phone, whether hands-free or not, are still at an increased risk for a motor-vehicle accident.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, the personal injury attorneys and wrongful death lawyers at Abels & Annes offer a free and confidential appointment to discuss your rights. Call (866) 99-ABELS. There is no fee unless you win.

Additional Resources:

Highway safety chief: Car not a ‘mobile device’, by Kevin McCaney, Government Computer News
More Blog Entries:

Drivers Asked to Put Down Cell Phones in Honor of Father’s Day and Chicago Distracted Driving Accident Victims , Chicago Personal Injury lawyer Blog, June 17, 2011