You always put your cellphone away before starting up the car, and you encourage others to do the same. But if you’re still punching radio buttons or even relying on a car’s “hands-free” features, you could still be significantly distracted while your vehicle is in motion.
Many drivers believe that using their car’s built-in technology devices is safe—after all, the car company designed the interface to be used by the driver. However, even when drivers can interact with their cars’ GPS systems, menus, and phone commands without taking their hands off the wheel, a large portion of the driver’s attention can still be diverted from the road.
Some of the biggest problems of in-car technology include:
- Voice commands. Many drivers have used voice-only command systems to change radio stations, make phone calls, or even have text messages read aloud to them. While talking to the car keeps your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road, it still requires you to concentrate on something other than driving—and that’s if the technology works flawlessly.
- Interface. More and more cars have a screen built into the dashboard and allow access to menus using the automaker’s software system. These systems can be difficult to navigate, and will require a driver’s eyes, hands, and concentration until they have learned how to move through the menus efficiently.
- Apps. In many cases, drivers who stow their cellphones in order to drive are just exchanging one computer for another. Automakers have built online capabilities into the car itself, making it possible to surf the internet, update Facebook, and perform other leisure activities while driving. Even composing a text or tweet via voice command requires concentration, and can cause a driver to run a red light or miss a stop sign.
- Frustration. Voice commands are an innovative technology, but the systems are far from perfect. Simply using the system is distracting enough, but when a driver has to repeat a command over and over, experiences dropped calls, or receives inaccurate GPS directions, frustration can take even more focus off of driving tasks.
Why Do Manufacturers Build Potentially Distracting Technology Into Their Cars?
Consumers have become used to staying “connected” to friends and the internet via their cellphones, and carmakers have capitalized on the idea as a selling point. While car makers may say that the high-tech additions to their vehicles should only be used while the vehicle is stationary, many drivers wrongly assume that since the system is in the car, it’s safe to use while driving. If someone you know calls you regularly on a hands-free device, you may want to let them know the risks of distraction. Share this article with your friends on Facebook or Google+ to keep them safe behind the wheel!