Although driving today is safer than it has ever been at any time before, some auto accident statistics have begun moving in directions that are not encouraging. It turns out that one of the leading causes of car accidents is distracted drivers. Combined with the fact that the number of traffic fatalities per 100,000 people has increased in a number of recent years, this has many experts asking if we are simply jamming too much technology into our cars.
Creating Unnecessary Distractions
While systems like GPS can be great safety features in certain situations, such as keeping drivers from straying into violent neighborhoods and avoiding the worst of urban traffic, the easy access to a lot of information while on the go may have net-negative safety implications. The DMV points out there are three types of distractions when driving, and how a GPS fits squarely in the visual category, which means you’re eyes are not on the road. This is because GPS and other technologies that are based on modern multifunction display screens can easily distract drivers from doing the one thing that is most important to the safety of themselves and their passengers: keeping an eye on the road.
Another source of potential distraction is how easily modern electronic devices like smartphones interface with the car’s systems. According to Emmanuel Sheppard and Condon, “collisions are caused by a number of reasons, but [among] the most common are: Distracted Driving [and] Reckless Driving.” While hands-free phone conversations would seem like they should have a positive impact on safety, studies have shown that even talking on the phone while the driver has both hands on the wheel can cause serious deficits in concentrating on the roadway. This is particularly true when driving decisions become more complicated than usual, such as when a driver faces the need to quickly slow down on a highway or perform an evasive maneuver. Some experts say that distracted driving due to built-in phone systems has been responsible for an increase in fatal rear-end collisions, which usually involve a failure to sufficiently slow at highway speeds.
How Much Do Gadgets Really Benefit Us?
Overall, cars are far safer, more economical and less costly to buy than ever before. However, it’s also interesting that, far from jetting around from rooftop to rooftop in flying cars, the vehicles of 2018 really aren’t much more different than their counterparts of the 1950s. The average car then could carry a family of four with luggage in comfort and style, easily reaching speeds of 80 m.p.h. or more. The same can be said of cars today. Granted, technological advancements such as rear-facing cameras to help you backup might be helpful, but many also counter with the fact that if you are a responsible driver who checks all mirrors and actually turns to look back when reversing, it’s not really necessary. Just as Lifewire points out, there are a lot of ups and downs and differences of opinion on the role of technology in the car, but the best thing to keep in mind is that safety is what’s most important.
The truth is, most people drive in areas with which they are familiar, making devices like GPS more of a novelty than a constant necessity. Whatever the right balance between technology may be, it’s certain that when there’s any question about whether using some gadget in a car is going to compromise safety, it’s best just to keep your eyes on the road. If interested in the ideas of self-driving cars and their potential impact, check out our other articles.