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Car navigation systems can be as distracting as cellphones

The recent surge in distracted driving accidents in Florida and around the country is often blamed on cellphone use, but research from the American Automobile Association reveals that using the sophisticated navigation and entertainment technology found in most new vehicles can be just as distracting for drivers. The organization's Foundation for Traffic Safety arrived at this conclusion after evaluating the electronics systems in vehicles manufactured by Ford, Chrysler, General Motors, Honda and Kia.

The study was conducted at the University of Utah, and it involved 64 participants sending text messages, making phone calls, adjusting audio settings and programming navigation systems while behind the wheel. The participants were then asked to complete the same series of tasks after the electronic systems in the cars had been paired with smartphones using applications from Apple and Android. The researchers noticed that all of the systems studied made high or very high demands on drivers. The CarPlay and Auto apps did save some time, but the researchers noticed several situations where the participants were still dangerously distracted.

Entering addresses into vehicle navigation systems was found to be especially distracting. The participants took 33 seconds on average to perform this task using the smartphone applications and 40 seconds when entering the information directly. That is enough time for a vehicle traveling at 60 mph to cover more than half a mile.

Establishing negligence in car collision cases involving a distracted driver can be challenging even for experienced personal injury attorneys. Motorists who cause serious accidents are rarely willing to admit that they were not watching the road ahead when they crashed, and distraction leaves few telltale clues for police officers to find. In these situations, attorneys may introduce information from automobile black-box-type devices to show that no evasive action was taken before an accident. They could use cellphone records to reveal that drivers were texting or accessing the internet at the time.

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