Distracted Driving

A Smarter Car May Not Always Be a Safer Car

Distracted driving is a problem, but is new technology making it worse?

NBCUniversal, Inc.

Our cars are getting smarter and smarter -- from 10-inch touchscreens to acting as a link to our smart phones, drivers have more distractions than ever.

"Distracted driving is an epidemic in this country, especially in Southern California, even though there are laws to prevent it," said Auto Club spokesperson Doug Shupe.

Shupe said many people just don't realize how quickly accidents can happen.

"On average it takes about five seconds to send or receive a text message," said Shupe. "If you’re traveling 55 miles-per-hour that’s like traveling the entire length of a football field blindfolded."

Whether it's searching for the game on the radio, finding the right CD to play, or wiping up that spilled coffee, the Auto Club said drivers have always faced distractions -- but with advances in technology, those distractions are only growing.

Infotainment systems are replacing the standard radio in most new cars. They have different apps and can do many different things, just like a smartphone.

"Don’t be fooled by infotainment systems that are in every new vehicle these days," said Shupe. "Just because it’s hands free, doesn’t mean it's risk free."

Just because it’s hands free, doesn’t mean it's risk free.

Doug Shupe with Auto Club of Southern California

To avoid distractions on the road, the Auto Club has several suggestions.

  • Practice using your car's system while parked. That way you will be less distracted if you have to use it while driving.
  • Avoid texting people that you know are driving.
  • Ask a passenger to send a text for you or help work the car's infotainment system.
  • If you are in a car with a distracted driver, speak up. Help them stay focused on the road.

"Most people know that it’s wrong to get behind the wheel after having some alcohol," said Shupe. "But those same people don’t think twice about getting behind the phone to text someone, check their email, reprogram the GPS, or find a song in their phone when in reality the consequences could be the same."

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