Across the country, new vehicles are constantly receiving new and upgraded features. Recent efforts have been largely focused on the digital information and entertainment systems which are becoming an increasingly standard feature in new vehicles. While consumers enjoy these “infotainment” features, they can greatly increase the risk of collision. Learn more about the risks of distracted driving, and how an experienced Mobile auto accident attorney can protect your legal rights after a car accident.
Distracted Driving Statistics
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety recently released the results on a study of distracted driving. Previous research had demonstrated that a driver who looks away from the road for just two seconds is twice as likely to cause an accident. Now, the AAA research found that drivers who use in-vehicle infotainment technologies (such as voice control and touch screen features) are visually and mentally distracted for more than forty seconds. These high risks are not limited to just a few distracted drivers: AAA reports that nearly one third of adult drivers use infotainment systems while driving.
Luckily, the research also found that some measures can effectively reduce this risk. Federal recommendations currently call for locking out text messaging and social media applications while driving, as well as programming navigation systems before the vehicle is in motion. Many mobile devices and in-vehicle systems also come with “do not disturb while driving” features which make it easier for drivers to avoid being distracted.
Alabama Drivers Have a Legal Obligation to Avoid Distracted Driving
The Alabama Code prevents texting while driving. Other sections also restrict behaviors which can lead to distracted driving: for example, §32-5A- 350 specifically allows for the use of a navigation system or app, but only if the coordinates of the destination have been programmed prior to driving. Programming the destination while driving is a violation of the Statute. Drivers in Alabama also have the longstanding legal obligation to drive with due care. A violation of this obligation is negligence, which exposes a driver to civil liability, and obligates him or her to compensate all injuries and other losses (“legal damages”) of any victim of the negligent driving.
In serious circumstances, drivers can also be criminally liable for distracted driving. This is what happened to one driver in Texas, whose distracted driving caused a fatal accident. The mere act of checking her text messages became a felony because people died as a result. The fact remains that no Do Not Disturb feature can completely eliminate distracted driving. Drivers must accept personal responsibility for avoiding any distractions and driving safely. Parents should be particularly cautious with their teen drivers, whose inexperience makes them particularly susceptible to the dangers of distracted driving. Clear guidelines for the use of technology in the vehicle should be implemented and enforced. Other distractions – such as loud music and noisy passengers – should also be addressed with teen drivers.