Report: Hands-free technologies more distracting than you think

Every driver in Pennsylvania should know that driving while is distracted is dangerous. We have heard that distracted driving is the new drunk driving; states have passed various laws prohibiting texting or using a phone while driving; massive educational and marketing campaigns have been launched to encourage drivers not to drive while distracted.

Carmakers are taking steps to address distracted driving as well. Just take a look at any new car and you'll see all sorts of options that aim to keep drivers safe from distraction. However, according to recent reports, these efforts could actually be doing more harm than good.

Poorly designed systems keep drivers distracted

According to research from AAA, the infotainment systems in many cars are poorly designed and often put high levels of demand on a driver's visual and cognitive resources.

In other words, infotainment systems that are supposed to make it less distracting to use GPS, send a message or even control the music are actually more distracting. Drivers spend as long as 40 seconds trying to click through prompts or menus to control various features. Instead of making things easier, poorly designed systems make things more complicated.

How big of a problem is this?

This is a big problem, unfortunately. Out of the 30 systems tested, none of them resulted in low demands on a driver's visual and cognitive resources. And a whopping 23 of them placed high or very high demands on these resources.

The AAA report notes that taking your eyes of the road for just a couple seconds - much shorter than the amount of time it takes to program navigation, for instance -- doubles your risk of a crash. Take into account the fact that 33 percent of drivers use these systems while driving and you wind up with a very dangerous picture of distracted driving.

What you can do as a driver

If you are involved in an accident caused by a distracted driver, remember that you have options to pursue compensation for your damages. Taking legal actions can help you collect this compensation, and it can also send a powerful reminder to others that distracted drivers can and should be held accountable for their actions.

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