Distracted driving accidents are on the rise in Texas and throughout the United States. As the Dallas Morning News reported, highway safety experts believe that distracted driving is one the primary factors behind a sharp increase in the number of serious car accidents in recent years.

The prevalence of smart phones is often cited as the biggest distracted driving threat. Texting while driving is extremely dangerous. However, research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has found that there is a another threat emerging: infotainment systems in cars and sport utility vehicles.

What is an Infotainment System?

An infotainment system, also known as in-car entertainment (ICE), is designed to provide the occupants with audio, video and information. Installed in a vehicle’s dashboard, infotainment systems do everything from playing music to uploading navigation maps to displaying social media accounts.

What the AAA Study Found

In its study of in-vehicle infotainment, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that these systems pose a high distraction risk to drivers.

According to the research, operating these systems is mentally taxing to many drivers. In fact, the more complex the infotainment system, the more dangerous it was found to be for drivers. Complex systems, such as those found in the Honda Civic Touring and the Tesla Model S, put the highest mental demand on drivers, thereby causing them to divert their focus from the task of driving.

What Causes the Infotainment Distractions?

The AAA researchers found that infotainment systems cause drivers to take their attention off of the road. Even when the system uses voice control, drivers are still distracted. Alarmingly, the task that took drivers’ attention off the road for the longest amount of time was programming directions on multi-map GPS systems.

This is concerning because many drivers perform this task. On average, programming directions resulted in 40 seconds of mental and visual distraction.

How to Reduce Infotainment Distraction

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has recommended that automakers lock out access to certain applications on infotainment systems when a vehicle is put into drive. At present, this NHTSA’s recommendation is only voluntary.

Automakers are not required to restrict what features they put into an infotainment system. If you are driving, it is recommended that you follow federal recommendations and avoid doing any of the following distracting activities, unless your vehicle is in park:

  • Texting;
  • Social media use;
  • Watching video; and
  • Programming directions or entertainment options.

The bottom line is that distracted driving is extremely dangerous whether the distraction is caused by a handheld cell phone or an infotainment system in your vehicle. Please be sure to use your infotainment system with care.

Were You Injured in a Distracted Driving Accident?

Our top-rated Austin auto accident lawyers can help if you have been injured in a crash caused by a distracted driver. At Byrd Davis Alden & Henrichson, LLP, our personal injury attorneys have extensive experience handling Texas distracted driving accident claims. To request a free, no obligation review of your legal case, please do not hesitate to contact our office today.