New technologies in vehicles have drastically advanced over the last several years. Convenience technologies, such as advanced infotainment systems and complicated touch screens, add to driver distraction, while automated assistance features create a reliance on technology, causing drivers to be less engaged on the road.

Convenience Technologies

The automotive industry has recently witnessed a rapid influx of cutting-edge technologies designed to enhance the driving experience. Advanced infotainment systems, which are in-car systems that seamlessly combine entertainment and information, give drivers hands-free access to their smartphones, and make vehicles more connected and smarter than ever before. While these innovations aim to improve safety, efficiency, and overall convenience, there is a growing concern about the unintended consequences—specifically, the potential for these technologies to distract drivers.

According to a study completed by financial service provider Allianz, “Distractions caused by using modern technology while driving increase the risk of accidents by 50 percent.” One of the most significant technological advancements in modern vehicles is the integration of advanced infotainment systems. Touchscreen displays, voice commands, and gesture controls have replaced traditional knobs and buttons, providing drivers with a more intuitive and interactive interface. Although these features are designed to enhance the driving experience, they can also be risky as they can potentially divert a driver’s attention away from the road. The Virginia Beach Injury Law News states, “The average user of infotainment features is visually and mentally distracted for over 40 seconds when using the system. If that motorist is driving at a speed of 55 miles per hour, they will be driving without looking where they are going for a distance of almost 1000 yards—or more than a half-mile.”

Distraction from technology is not just limited to vehicle drivers. In an article focused on driver distraction, the Los Angeles Times reported that the U.S. military has also faced a similar issue with helicopter pilots. The author quoted a study on pilots of Apache attack helicopters conducted by the U.S. Army in the 1980s. The pilots had to respond to constant information on screens and displays in the cockpit of the helicopters. “The cognitive overload caused by all that information was degrading performance and raising the risk of crashes, the researchers determined. Pilots were forced to do too many things at once, with too many bells and whistles demanding their attention.” The inundation of information in current vehicles has a similar effect to what these pilots experienced over 30 years ago.

Automated Assistance

The automotive industry is also making strides towards autonomous driving by introducing semi-autonomous features like adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, and automated parking. While these technologies aim to enhance safety and reduce driver fatigue, they can inadvertently encourage overreliance on automation. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation wrote about a study completed by the University of Windsor, which found that those who get behind the wheel of semi-autonomous cars pay little attention to the road. The Washington Post reported on the dangers of drivers relying on semi-autonomous technology in their vehicles, indicating that crashes involving Tesla’s driver assistance system have increased since 2021.

While these technologies are intended to increase the safety of drivers in a constantly connected world, overreliance on these innovations can pose a danger if relied on too much.

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