Are Smarter Cars Driving Us to Distraction?

Madeleine Jones
September 28, 2016

New and high-tech features may be selling points for new cars, but scientists are beginning to discover that they are driving drivers to distraction. Research has confirmed that cell phone use and texting, in particular, pose a significant risk on the road but even if they are hands-free, a car’s smart features can also be risky. Built-in infotainment systems in many new smart cars are just as distracting and much less strictly regulated. Learn more about the common smart car accident and how you might be entitled to compensation if the other driver was distracted. 

How Smart Cars Are Driving Us To Distraction

Modern cars these days are equipped with voice-activated Bluetooth phone integration and sometimes drivers can even access voice-activated navigation and music control features. These features may allow you to keep your hands on the steering wheel but that doesn’t mean that it won’t distract you.

Even when your phone is paired with your car and you use only your voice to access features, you are still exposed to the consequences of distracted driving. Focusing on these features while driving reduces your reaction time, and this ultimately may lead to a crash.

While you are not discouraged to experience these features, keep in mind that this amazing new technology does not eliminate the risk of distracted driving. 

Technological Features That Increase Driver Distraction

Here are some technological features you can find in a smart car that can increase the distractions that drivers have to contend with.

Autopilot Functions

They are designed to assist a driver by steering and stoping in certain situations. It can even help you park your car. However, this software can fail to detect pedestrians in a crosswalk. 

Hands-free phone use 

Talking on the phone via speakerphone makes it possible to do it while driving. The problem here is, even when using a phone in voice mode is distracting. A driver can lose focus on whether a car is in front of them or about to turn. Studies show that a diver engaged in conversation scans the road differently and they don’t check on rearview mirrors and side-view mirrors as often as someone not engaged in a conversation.

Infotainment Systems

The very appealing large screens in your dashboard that provide GPS, music libraries, phone call tech, and even the ability to watch a movie. They are amazing, but the absence of knobs and buttons requires the driver to take their eyes off the road and hands off the wheel.


Smart Car Accident Statistics And Facts

  • Programming navigation devices while driving is the No. 1 most distracting task.
  • Using a hands-free electronic device is four times more distracting than talking to an adult passenger
  • Infotainment systems can distract drivers up to 40 seconds at a time. Taking your eyes off the road for two seconds doubles the risk of an accident. Imagine what 40 seconds can do.
  • AAA estimates that 1 in every 3 drivers on the road uses an infotainment system while driving. A lot of the technology created to enhance convenience is actually overloading brain mechanisms, resulting in driver distraction.

  • In 2015, 10 percent of all roadway fatalities occurring in the U.S. involved distraction, leading to close to 3,500 deaths and an estimated 391,000 people injured. While distracted driving is prevalent among all ages, drivers between the ages of 15 and 19 were involved in more fatal crashes than those in other age groups.

  • 94% of crases involve driver mistakes like distracted driving and making poor decisions on the road.

Reducing The Risk Of Smart Car Accidents

As driving smarter cars become the norm, researchers hope that motorists will stay informed and make good choices before using smart features on the road. Every year, more than 420,000 people are injured as the result of a distracted driver. It is up to auto manufacturers to continue to develop safer systems, but it is also important for drivers to understand the risk and educate themselves on the dangers of distracted driving.

While texting and driving is the most well-known and perhaps, the most dangerous form of distracted driving, in-car systems such as navigation features and voice commands are also causing concern and additional studies are planned. Any time that a driver takes their eyes off of the road, their hands off the wheel or their minds off of driving, the risk of an accident exists. 

Technological Features That Decrease Driver Distraction

Engineers have recently focused their efforts on developing technology that could decrease the distractions caused by the aforementioned technology. 

Here are some of the solutions they’ve come up with:

Cell Phone Blocking Technology 

Since it’s hard for people to just shut off their phones or put them on airplane mode when driving, companies have come up with apps that block people from sending or receiving calls while driving. These apps can track speed, detect sudden stops, and even send text alerts to let parents or bosses know when something is wrong.

Safety Features

Adding safety features like forward-collision detection and warnings. This could reduce rear-end crashes by 27%. Another safety feature is the automatic emergency braking that engages the breaks if the vehicle senses a crash coming and the driver is not responding fast enough to a hazard. Lane departure warning is another safety feature that emits a warning when a car passes over center lines and they didn’t signal. 


Are Smart Cars Safe In Accidents?

These smart V2V (vehicle to vehicle) systems we just mentioned above could help drivers avoid 80% of the vehicle crashes that are regularly caused by impaired drivers. These systems can alert drivers of potentials hazards on the road and can help them avoid serious car accidents.

However, in this day and age, we should not lose sight of the fact that the best safety in a car is a driver who is in all of his senses and not distracted by calls or text messages. V2V technology will not abrogate driver responsibility. 

The majority of crashes that result in personal injury, or even death, are caused by negligent and careless drivers. WiFi technology is not going to get rid of the harm they can do. A beeping alert is not going to make the speed of an impaired driver faster any more than the scream of a scared passenger does.

Taking legal action against negligent drivers can help people injured in car wrecks caused by distracted driving obtain the compensation they deserve for their losses.

Smart Cars Pose Cyber Dangers

If distracted driving wasn’t enough to cause accidents, cybercriminals are now targeting smart cars. All the digital controls and internet-connected devices found in them give hackers an opportunity to control a car’s central communication system. This threat puts owners of smart cars at high risk of dangers behind the wheel.


So far, there have only been a handful of cyber-attacks on smart cars where hackers were able to take control of a car’s steering and shut down the engine on moving cars. However, security experts are concerned about malicious cybercriminals who pose more dangerous threats to a driver’s safety if cars are controlled remotely. With self-driving cars now on the road, there are concerns about cars without steering wheels and backup systems that allow drivers to manually regain control of their car if the central communication network is hacked.

As cars become more digital, the software is rapidly replacing hardware. More than 50 percent of a car’s value today is determined by its digital software which now controls major functions in a car such as steering, throttle control, and gear shifting. If these systems are hacked remotely, drivers face a high risk of serious car accidents and injuries. Newer cars have internet connectivity and wireless network systems that can store and share important data about a car and its owner. Cybersecurity experts warn that these high-tech features have made cars more vulnerable like computers, and this creates a potential cyber threat to steal personal information.

To address potential hacking threats, auto manufacturers and law enforcement are working together to prevent cyber attacks on smart cars with digital software. Congress is proposing new vehicle safety standards for car manufacturers, while automakers are building new software that will be more difficult for cybercriminals to access. Although hacking high-tech cars is a new danger, the increase of cybercrimes over the last five years has made it a real threat. In 2016, the FBI issued a warning to consumers about the potential dangers of hackers and high-tech cars with digital software and internet connectivity. As high-tech car sales rise, auto manufacturers are working diligently to reduce hacking threats by cybercriminals.


Have You Been Involved In A Smart Car Accident Recently?

If you are in a smart car accident with a distracted driver, you may experience severe injuries, deal with significant financial damage, and need to cope with the emotional aftermath. In these situations, you have the right to collect compensation for your damages – but you need a Nevada car accident attorney on your side to help you through this process. If you have not done so already, contact a Cogburn Law car accident attorney at (702) 748-7777 as soon as possible to discuss your path forward and begin your claim.

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I was hesitant about getting a lawyer for many reasons, however the entire staff at Cogburn reassured me that everything would be okay. They were always very attentive and provided detailed answers to any questions I had. I would like to thank the entire staff for all of your hard work, making sure that my daughters and I were compensated for the car accident, and making sure we received all the necessary treatment. You were awesome. If you need an attorney that won’t look at you as just another case, that’ll return your calls/emails I definitely recommend this team.

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