Abels & Annes
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Is New Technology Making Distracted Driving Worse?

Car Accident Lawyers in Chicago

We all know that distracted driving is dangerous. Technology, however, just keeps producing better and better distractions—often in the form of ever-more interactive smartphones and tablets—for today’s drivers. When you hit the road, always make safety your top priority by diligently avoiding distracted driving and by being alert to those distracted drivers with whom you might share the road.

Distracted Driving

A distracted driver cannot pay full attention to the driving task at hand. Dangerous situations on the road can arise in the blink of an eye, and if drivers are not fully engaged, the results can be tragic. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) finds that distracted drivers allow their attention to become engaged in any activity other than driving. The NHTSA divides these distractions into:

  • Visual distractions – Visual distractions engage your vision.
  • Manual distractions – Manual distractions engage your hands.
  • Cognitive distractions – Cognitive distractions engage your brain.

Texting represents the mother of all distractions because it engages all three distraction classifications at once. In fact, texting while driving is considered the most dangerous form of distracted driving. Technology, therefore, has significantly contributed to distracted driving.

Don’t Text and Drive

The sobering statistics associated with texting and driving are worth noting:

  • When drivers text, their attention veers away from the road for at least five seconds.
  • If they’re traveling at 55 miles per hour while they text, their attention is off the road for the full length of a football field.
  • When someone texts and drives, their odds of being involved in a car accident are multiplied by 23.
  • When they dial while driving, their odds of being involved in a car crash multiply by three.
  • If a driver chats on a smartphone while they drive, their odds of being involved in a car accident are elevated by about a third.
  • Teenagers who mix texting and driving drive outside of their own lanes about a tenth of the time.

These statistics are a stark reminder that it’s always best to drive phone-free, because engaging with your smartphone or tablet while driving endangers everyone on the road. Arriving alive should always be your goal, and eliminating distractions while driving can help you get there. This does not mean, however, that you can stop other drivers from using technology while driving—and putting your life at risk.

Not-so-Smart Phones

The meteoric rise of smartphones has left drivers with little time to fully comprehend just how dangerous mixing driving and smartphones can be. In fact, technology has evolved in such a way that smartphones have become so much more than just phones.

Many people have begun to think of their phones as personal extensions of themselves— but this can lead to bad choices when driving is added to the equation. Whether you’re catching up with email, chatting with your kid, browsing a recipe on the internet, or checking notifications on Facebook, your phone takes your attention away from the road—where it should be. Such distractions make it that much easier to miss the warning signs of impending danger on the road.

Illinois Law and Distracted Driving

Illinois law prohibits the use of handheld electronic communication devices, including smartphones, while operating motor vehicles. If you are 19 or older, you may implement hands-free technology to access your device, but even this is discouraged. Illinois considers hands-free technology a driving distraction that can prove dangerous and encourages drivers who must make calls to pull safely off the road before doing so. There are only three occasions in which it is legal for a driver to use a smartphone that’s not hands-free:

  • To report an emergency on the road
  • While parked on the roadway’s shoulder
  • When traffic is stopped due to a normal roadway obstruction and the vehicle is in either neutral or park

Technology’s Role in Distracted Driving

While technology has certainly played a significant role in the rise in distracted driving, it can also help mitigate distracted driving. Hands-free technologies are one such example. Hands-free interaction is considered safer, but phone calls—in and of themselves—are distracting whether hands-free or not. There are, however, other technological advances that can help mitigate distractions:

  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Automatic braking systems
  • Lane departure warning systems
  • Built-in global positioning systems (GPS)

These technological advances, along with other innovations, can help drivers perform important driving functions while helping to keep them on task.

The Evolution of Smartphone Technology

Because smartphones are among the most dangerous distractions for drivers, phone developers are working to address this important issue and mitigate their bad reputations. The new iPhone X, for instance, is poised to include a Do Not Disturb While Driving mode, which is an option that drivers can choose and that will help allay the phone’s distraction level.

One complication, however, is that once the safety feature is activated, the phone proceeds to determine when you are driving—and driving is difficult to distinguish from riding. Once the phone does determine that you’re driving, it will automatically mute your phone to distracting notifications. In addition, your favorite contacts will receive an automated I’m driving response if they attempt to contact you while you’re behind the wheel. The distractions of technology aren’t going away anytime soon, but technology can help implement important mechanisms for mitigating these distractions.

If You’ve Been Injured by a Distracted Driver, Call a Chicago Personal Injury Attorney as Soon as Possible

If a distracted driver’s negligence caused injury to you or someone you care about, you don’t have to face this difficult time alone. The Chicago personal injury lawyers at Abels & Annes are here to help. We handle the process of negotiating with the claims adjuster. We advise you to reject any lowball offers and let us advocate for a fair settlement amount. We have the skill, knowledge, and dedication to help you navigate the often-confusing path toward just compensation. Your case and your rights are too important to leave to chance. If you’ve been injured by a distracted driver, please don’t hesitate to contact or call our office at (312) 924-7575 for a free consultation today.