This “safety feature” is more distracting than texting and driving

A recent study suggests that in-car navigation technology is more distracting for drivers than texting.

Many distracted driving laws understandably target drivers who text and drive or otherwise use their cell phones while behind the wheel. However, while cell phone use while driving is certainly dangerous, a new study says that cell phones aren't actually the most distracting technology available to drivers. As MarketWatch reports, that study showed that in-car navigation systems, which are often promoted by car companies as safety features, are actually more distracting than texting and driving. The study comes at a time when fatal motor vehicle accidents are increasing across the country and authorities are grappling with how to control the problem.

The most distracting technology

The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Utah and supported by the AAA Foundation. The study looked at how distracting different features of in-car infotainment systems found in 30 different vehicle models were for drivers. The features looked at were making a call, sending a text, programming a navigation device, and tuning the radio.

The study found that the most distracting activity was programming navigation devices. Programming navigation features resulted in drivers taking their eyes off the road for an average of 40 seconds. That's alarming since a previous study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that every two seconds a driver takes their eyes off the road doubles the chance of an accident occurring.

The state of distracted driving

The problem with such navigation features is that many drivers consider them to be safety features, which can mask the fact that they are in fact just as dangerous as texting and driving. Furthermore, many distracted driving laws that prohibit the use of electronic devices while driving actually making exemptions for navigation features, again sending confusing and potentially dangerous messages to the driving public.

It is important to see in-car infotainment features as an integral part of the distracted driving problem. As Bloomberg reports, overall traffic fatalities across the United States increased by 5.6 percent in 2016, yet the data is woefully inadequate when it comes to tracking the role distracted driving plays in those deaths. Despite numerous studies showing that distracted driving is a leading cause of fatal motor vehicle accidents, NHTSA data shows only 1.4 percent of traffic deaths are officially attributable to mobile phone use. The true percentage, however, especially if all forms of distracted driving are included, is almost certainly many times higher than that figure.

What to do after an accident

A car accident can be a devastating experience and the weeks and months following the accident tend to be particularly stressful. Not only will the physical and emotional recovery be a challenge, but crash victims must also contend with financial burdens , such as medical bills, lost income, and vehicle repair costs. A personal injury attorney can help. By getting in touch with an attorney as soon as possible, those who have been through an accident will have an advocate on their side fighting for their rights and helping them pursue whatever compensation they may be entitled to.