Today, most new cars are equipped with some kind of infotainment system. These systems allow motorists to talk with their vehicles. Drivers can tell their car to put an address into their GPS system, or to turn on a different kind of music. Drivers who integrate their phones with their cars can also make cell phone cells, and often can send text messages and have their car read messages and emails to them.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, recognizes the prevalence of these systems and the increased reliance on infotainment systems. NHTSA recently released two-part guidelines with the goal of making infotainment systems safer. The first set of guidelines addresses the built-in voice controlled electronic systems in cars and has the goal of increasing the safety features included in these systems. The second part of the guidelines addresses the integration of aftermarket technologies, which are far too frequently used in vehicles.
Unfortunately, no amount of guidelines or safety developments can make these in-vehicle infotainment or electronic systems safer. There simply is NO WAY to make it safe for motorists to use mobile technology while they are driving. In fact, the increased use of mobile technology is having a devastating impact on road safety by significantly increasing accident risks.
According to New York Times, the president of the National Safety Council issued a warning regarding the increased reliance on in-vehicle tech tools like voice controlled infotainment systems. She warned that while these systems were supposed to decrease crash risks by keeping people's hands on the wheel and eyes on the road through the use of voice control, the effect of these systems may not actually be to reduce distracted driving crashes. Instead, they may just be increasing the interactions that people have with their phones or with other technologies.
Drivers think it is OK to use infotainment systems or to talk to their phone both because these systems are so common and because it is not illegal to use hands free electronics in the car. Unfortunately, even if you have your hands on the wheel, you are in danger of a distracted driving accident if you are focusing on something besides the road.
National Safety Council warns that a driver who is distracted by something like a phone call is going to miss about 50 percent of what's actually going on around him. Even when drivers "see" things, they won't see them because their brain cannot multitask and process all the input that is coming in. The brain focuses on the phone call (or on talking to the infotainment system) and not on driving safely.
This increased reliance on mobile technology has played a major role in contributing to the fact there was a 10.4 percent increase in car accident fatalities during the first half of 2016 versus the first half of 2015. This was the largest rise in the death rate from year-to-year in the past 50 years and every driver should take notice and put away their phone!