Why we can’t know the role of distracting technology in crashes

On Behalf of | Jul 27, 2022 | Motor Vehicle Accidents |

If you’re in the market for a new car after another driver caused a crash, you may find the amount of digital technology in them overwhelming. That’s particularly true if you haven’t shopped for a new car in the past decade or so.

While some technology helps protect motorists from themselves and others, a good deal of it is there so we’re never without entertainment. Recent model vehicles also make sure we never miss a phone call, text or email.

How much is digital distraction responsible for the rise in fatal crashes?

One cognitive psychologist who studies distracted driving calls it a “candy store of distraction…[that’s] killing people.” The technology at our fingertips when we get behind the wheel has played a role in increased traffic fatalities over the past decade. However, we can’t know how many crashes occur because of distracted driving. One highway safety advocate says, “I don’t think we’re getting an accurate picture of what’s happening on the roads.”

Since most states, including Georgia, prohibit the use of handheld devices while driving, there often aren’t witnesses reporting that they saw a driver talking on their phone just before a crash. However, they could have been doing any of the following (hand-free) tasks:

  • Returning a phone call
  • Replying to a text
  • Getting the latest episode of their favorite podcast
  • Searching for that song they heard in a commercial last night
  • Getting directions to the nearest Starbucks with a drive-thru

Multiple studies have found that hands-free technology is still highly distracting. Insurance agents have estimated that distracted driving is responsible for about half of all crashes.

Know which technology you need and which to ignore while you’re driving

As tempting as it will be to access many of these entertainment/media features in your new car, it’s safest to set everything (like entertainment choice and destination) before you start your drive. Most vehicles allow you to put your communications in “do not disturb” mode while you’re driving so you don’t see incoming calls and messages. However, you should never turn off any of the safety features, like blind spots or lane departure warnings – no matter how annoying you find them. 

This can help you be better prepared to get out of the way of drivers who aren’t so conscientious. In the meantime, be sure not to settle for less than you deserve when another driver causes a crash.