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New studies reveal no single cure for distracted driving

Public safety officials have not definitively linked an increase in distracted driving to the increase in fatal car accidents, but most drivers in Montana probably think that it would make sense to. The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that 37,150 people died on America’s roads in 2017, which is more than a 10 percent jump from only three years prior. In the meantime, more new technology, especially automated technology, is being introduced.

Several new studies have analyzed the effect of technology on drivers’ attention. Researchers at the University of Utah, for example, compared in-car infotainment systems with interfaces like Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, which run off smartphones.

In the study, 64 participants drove in five different vehicles with built-in infotainment systems, and while these demanded more attention from drivers than the interfaces, neither could be considered safe. With the interfaces, some features were less demanding than others. Android Auto made it easier to enter a destination while Apple CarPlay made it easier for anyone to send texts.

Agero, a provider of vehicle safety and roadside assistance systems, conducted a study on vehicle automation and its effect on attention spans. Its data suggests that drivers aged 17 to 22 are especially vulnerable: They use their phones an average of 12 percent of the time they’re driving. MIT researchers are also studying the effect of features like Tesla’s Autopilot.

Drivers, even of partially automated vehicles, are completely responsible for their actions behind the wheel. When distractions make them negligent and they get in a motor vehicle accident, they may be held liable for the other’s injuries and vehicle damage. Victims, for their part, may wish to consult with a personal injury lawyer to see how much they might be eligible for. The amount will be lower if victims contributed to the accident with their own negligence.

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