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Driver distraction doubles when car safety systems are engaged

Distracted driving accidents in Iowa and around the country are often blamed on cellphone use, but some of the most advanced automobile safety systems could also be playing a role. Adaptive cruise control and lane departure assist features are designed to monitor road conditions and take action automatically to avoid collisions, but the results of a study from the American Automobile Association suggest that these systems could be causing accidents as well as preventing them.

The AAA's Foundation for Traffic Safety came to this conclusion after watching videos of drivers using adaptive cruise control and lane departure assist features. The drivers were behind the wheel of some of the most advanced cars and SUVs available in the United States. The researchers noticed that the number of distracted driving incidents almost doubled when the semiautonomous safety features were engaged. This led them to conclude that motorists put far too much faith in these systems.

Automobile information and entertainment systems have also been linked with distracted driving. A research team from the University of Utah conducted a study of 30 infotainment systems in 2016, and all of them were found to be at least somewhat distracting. While road safety experts are not calling for cars to be stripped of these features, they do want auto manufacturers to tone down advertising that tends to exaggerate the capabilities of electronic systems.

Determining what transpired in the moments before a car crash was once a nebulous process, but much has changed in the last few years. Many traffic lights and buildings are now fitted with cameras, and modern vehicles contain sophisticated electronic systems that store huge amounts of data. Experienced personal injury attorneys may seek to obtain this data when their clients are injured in traffic accidents and police reports do not identify who was to blame. The information stored on hard drives under the hood could reveal how fast vehicles were traveling when their drivers lost control and whether or not any action was taken to avoid a crash.

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