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Study analyzes effect of infotainment systems on driving

Tennessee drivers are likely aware that distracted driving is becoming more and more prevalent. From 2014 to 2017, the number of fatalities on America's roads went up by 10 percent, and distracted driving may be partly to blame for it. It should be kept in mind that public health officials have not definitively established that link.

AAA's Foundation for Traffic Safety has just released a study, though, showing that built-in infotainment systems are especially distracting. Researchers from the University of Utah conducted an experiment where 64 participants drove in five different vehicles with infotainment systems. They were asked at certain points to use the systems, and at other points they were asked to run either Android Auto or Apple CarPlay: Interfaces that run off a smartphone.

The result was that drivers were less distracted when using the Android and Apple interfaces. CarPlay demanded more of a driver's attention when entering a destination, while Android Auto was more demanding when drivers were text messaging. Both systems, though, were labeled as dangerous for drivers.

Others are addressing the problem of distraction from different angles. Nauto, a startup that equips fleet vehicles with cameras, is obtaining valuable information on road incidents and working to prevent them. Researchers at MIT are looking into the effect of Tesla's Autopilot and other automated features on driver behavior.

It all depends on drivers whether they will let themselves be distracted or not. When they cause motor vehicle accident, those who are not at fault may be eligible for compensation under personal injury law. This is where a lawyer might come in, evaluate the claim and estimate a fair amount for the settlement. After hiring professionals to find cell phone records and other possible proof of negligence, the lawyer may then proceed to negotiations. The lawyer can leave litigation as a last resort.

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