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Electronic distractions: Can technology also prevent distracted driving?

We have all heard stories of how electronic gadgets in cars can distract drivers and cause car accidents. Talking on a cell phone, consulting a GPS device, changing tunes on MP3 players and texting while driving can divert drivers' attention for just long enough to lead them to miss a curve or a stop sign and cause serious car crash injuries.

Federal officials have called for auto manufacturers to slow down on implementation of distracting technologies that take attention from the road ahead. But technology has also led to great advances in automobile safety, from vehicle stability control systems to back-up warning systems that tell a driver if a child or obstacle is in a car or truck's path.

Within a few years, drivers will experience new auto technologies that should reduce the frequency of distracted driving accidents:

  • Steering wheels that vibrate when a vehicle leaves its lane without signaling
  • Vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure feedback that warns of impending collisions
  • Enhanced control over vehicle performance and communication devices to prevent teen drivers from speeding or making or receiving calls
  • Warnings that tell a driver if another vehicle is following too closely, as well as blind spot monitoring

Smart strategies to reduce distracted driving across the country are a welcome advance after more than two decades of steady increases in use of electronic devices by drivers. Travel safety studies have estimated that even hands-free cell phone use creates the same delay in reactions as drunk driving at the legal limit.

Oregon's ban on all texting by drivers is a good start, as is its ban on all cell phone use by novice drivers. When drivers ignore the law and cause accidents, our Portland car accident lawyers can help injury victims explore every legal option for compensation and legal accountability.

Source: "If technology is the problem, can it also help prevent distracted-driving crashes?" mlive.com, 2/5/12

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