Many in the automobile and electronic industries are promoting the integration of smartphones into a vehicle’s dashboard as a “safety advantage” that will decrease the number of accidents caused by distracted driving. It is evident from the number of traffic violations issued throughout the United States and the number of traffic accidents caused by using electronic devices while driving that Americans are not willing to give up their electronic devices when they are behind the wheel of a vehicle. This phenomenon is despite laws and warnings designed to force drivers to put down their smart phones and other electronic devices while operating a motor vehicle.
The Apple CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto will now turn a vehicle into a very large smart phone; however, does the use of these devices decrease the risk of motor vehicle accidents caused by distracted driving?
What is Google’s Android Auto System?
The Android Auto System has a dashboard display that allows the driver to have the conveniences of a smart phone without diverting the driver’s eyes from the road. The hands-free technology allows the driver to answer telephone calls and make telephone calls with voice commands. The driver can also adjust the vehicles audio settings, search Google Maps, and send and receive text messages all without touching the device or diverting his or her eyes from the road ahead.
The Android Auto uses the vehicle’s audio system to communicate with the driver. The driver does not even need to touch the device to send or read a text message – the device reads the text message aloud for the driver and “types” the driver’s spoken response with its voice recognition feature.
What is Apple CarPlay?
The Apple CarPlay is a similar system to Google’s Android Auto in that they both allow for audio commands once the driver turns on the device from a button on the steering wheel. The smart phone must be plugged into the car’s USB port to use either feature. Unlike the Android Auto, Apple CarPlay limits its voice commands to its proprietary apps such as Apple Music, texting, maps, and phone calls. You must also be a subscriber to Apple Music (currently $10 per month) to use this feature.
The device does allow you to use voice commands to play music you have downloaded to your iPhone. Android Auto is not as restrictive on the apps that allow voice commands.
Problems Using “Hands-Free” Devices
Even though your car may have Apple CarPlay or Google’s Android Auto System installed, both systems still have problems. Just as with any voice activated electronic device, they do not always work as intended. Your voice commands may not always work requiring you to divert your eyes from the road and use your hands even though it is a hands-free system. Both systems are still being tested by several government and non-profit agencies to determine if this type of integrated system will actually reduce the number of accidents caused by distracted driving.
Unfortunately, any task that takes the drivers attention away from the act of driving, even if that task is “hands-free,” is a distraction. The driver’s thoughts are not on what lies ahead on the road but on what song to play, what his girlfriend is saying about dinner, or what her best friend just texted her about their weekend plans. The driver’s focus is not on the traffic ahead; therefore, the driver may not react as quickly to another driver shifting lanes unexpectedly or traffic coming to a quick stop. This delay in reaction time can be the difference between avoiding a collision and causing a tragic automobile accident.
According to the National Safety Council, multitasking (i.e. using a cell phone while driving), is not safe even when the driver is using a hands-free device. Statistics show:
- Drivers using a cell phone are four times more likely to be involved in a motor vehicle accident.
- Current estimates review that nearly 21% of all accidents involve a driver talking on a cell phone.
- Inattention Blindness (the ability to look without really “seeing”) increases by 50% when a driver is talking on a cell phone. In other words, the diver “misses” 50% of what he or she is seeing because the brain is processing what is being said rather than what is being seen.
- Drivers using cell phones have a slower reaction time compared to drivers with a BAC of .08 (above the legal limit for drunk driving).
Have You Been Injured by a Distracted Driver?
It is unclear yet whether using Apple CarPlay or Google’s Android Auto System will be any safer than using the hands-free technology on your smart phone; however, it does appear to be promising. Unfortunately, the fact remains that performing any task, regardless how safe it may appear, while driving distracts the driver and increases the risk of a motor vehicle accident.
If you or a loved one has been injured due to a distracted driver, you have rights. Contact an experienced Philadelphia accident lawyer now for a free consultation to discuss your right to financial compensation for your physical pain and emotional suffering in addition to your economic damages.