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How could technology lead to distracted driving?


Automakers have used technology to combat the risks of distracted driving. However, their efforts may be doing just as much harm.

The American Psychological Association explains some technology in vehicles can be just as distracting as using a cell phone while driving. Experts warn against using these systems when driving even if they seem to be perfectly safe.

Helpful or harmful

Navigational displays and internet connection may be something carmakers intend to help drivers focus more on driving. Still, they can take attention away from operating a vehicle when people use them during a trip instead of setting them up prior to getting behind the wheel. These things are consuming attention, and while there may be warnings about using them while driving, many drivers do not listen.

Limited attention

Researchers explain that humans’ attention is limited. The use of such technology can create a situation of inattention blindness. Drivers may think they are not distracted, but their full focus is not on driving, which means they are at a higher risk for an accident. Even actions that may seem safe, such as speaking to a system using voice controls, can be distracting because they reduce cognitive focus on the task of driving.

Staying safe

When driving, a driver should solely focus on the task at hand. Messing with screens or dials will cause distractions, which could lead to reductions in reaction times. Listening has been proven in studies to be the only activity people can safely do when driving. Even engaging in a conversation produces some distraction.

Drivers who mess with navigational systems or interact with other technology in their vehicles when driving are just as much at risk of causing an accident as those who are using their cell phones.