For Distracted Drivers, Technology Often Does More Harm Than Good

When it comes to new cars in the United States, MP3 connectivity is practically a given: nine out of 10 new cars sold in the U.S. have MP3 jacks, according to HealthDay News, and numerous manufacturers offer a wide range of after-market controllers claiming to reduce distraction for drivers. But unfortunately, according to one recent study, these gadgets may actually increase the risk of distracted driving rather than reduce it.

Playlist Length Linked to Distraction

In a study involving 50 participants age 18 to 25 who used an MP3 player or after-market controller to search for specific songs, researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that drivers with longer playlists took their eyes off the road for longer and more frequent periods than drivers with shorter playlists. Although intended to help keep drivers focused on the road, researchers concluded that the after-market controllers actually increased the amount of time that drivers looking away from the road.

John Lee, a researcher involved in the study, said in a press release that new technology like MP3 players is often much more distracting than old technology like radios, despite seeming very similar. The act of selecting a song, he says, can draw a driver's attention away from the road for longer than intended, with potentially fatal results.

Transportation Safety Group Recommends Changes

MP3 players are far from the only culprit when it comes to distracting new technology behind the wheel. More and more often, modern cars come equipped with fancy dashboard gadgets like GPS navigators and voice-control systems that may encourage drivers to multitask on the road. With 5,474 deaths and 448,000 injuries caused by distracted driving in 2009 alone, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration took action recently by issuing a recommendation to auto manufacturers that dashboard electronics be automatically disabled while driving.

People injured in accidents caused by distracted driving may be able to receive compensation for the injuries, medical bills and other losses caused by the accident. For information about pursuing a legal claim after a distracted driving accident, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer.