Siegal & RichardsonLLP

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New study shows how distracting dashboard gadgets can be

Infotainment systems are a relatively new technology on vehicles, but drivers in California should be aware of their dangers. A AAA study, which was conducted by researchers at the University of Utah, shows that the various features on infotainment systems are often irrelevant to driving and can only increase drivers' inattention.

The study focused on 30 systems on new 2017 vehicles. Seven were classified as having a moderate demand on one's attention, 11 a high level and 12 a very high amount. Participants in the study, who were asked to use each feature while behind the wheel, engaged in unsafe maneuvers like swerving out of their lanes, ignoring stop signs and driving well under the posted speed limit.

The study revealed that using the GPS feature and texting were the two most distracting activities, stealing drivers' attention from the road for more than 40 seconds each. Using voice commands was shown to be distracting too. It should be kept in mind that, according to previous studies, taking one's eyes off the road for two seconds doubles the risk for an auto accident.

Researchers say that manufacturers are being negligent in adding so many irrelevant features. Some even come with a finger-painting feature. In addition, not all infotainment systems are fully tested, and some have a complicated dashboard that makes simple actions hard to carry out.

Drivers cannot blame their infotainment systems, though, if they get into an auto accident. Distracted driving is a form of negligence, and drivers' auto insurance companies may find themselves facing claims from injured parties. Of course, victims must show that they were not mostly to blame for the accident. This is why having a lawyer is essential. An attorney could also speak on victims' behalf at the negotiation table and in court if a settlement is not agreed upon.

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