Each day, thousands of drivers are distracted while driving. Whether a young passenger is yelling demands from the backseat or the constant “ding” of an alert from a cell phone, there’s a good chance that a majority of today’s drivers have their minds on anything but the road. In efforts to make motorists safer and less prone to preventable accidents, there are several gadgets and technology on the market which “assist” drivers on the road. One main concern, however, is whether or not the helpful gadgets are a distraction themselves.
While many newer vehicles are equipped with specific features to assist drivers and keep them from having accidents, there are similar gadgets that can be purchased for older vehicles. Here are a few gadgets or technology that may add to distracted driving:
Most drivers will agree that there are those who can park well and those who cannot. If you’re lucky, maybe you’ve opted for parking in a ramp or lot and have never had to fight for a coveted spot along a busy city street. Parallel parking can make even the best of drivers sweat. It seems easy enough, but when you’ve got the added pressure of impatient drivers piling up from behind, you may feel as if you’re parking for the very first time.
Thankfully, many cars are equipped with park assist and if not, you can purchase parking assist gadgets that attach to your front and rear bumpers. The concept is simple, you engage your parking sensor, put the car in reverse, and let the technology guide you into your parking spot through a series of alerts. It may seem easy enough, but it still requires the driver to be attentive to certain areas such as blind spots and other areas in or around the parking spot. Additionally, just because it may help you park better, doesn’t mean it will help you park more quickly. If you’re quick to become flustered, the elevated alerts may make the parking situation worse, especially if other drivers are waiting impatiently.
Back Up Cameras
Much like parking assistance, a back up camera pays attention to what’s behind you and alerts you with a sound and/or image on a video screen in the vehicle. Rearview cameras have become more popular over the years and in 2016 will become a standard safety feature in new vehicles. According to the NHTSA, this helpful gadget has saved an estimated 58 to 69 lives each year. While the back up camera can be a lifesaver, it may be less effective if the driver is already engaged in distracted behavior.
For instance, if you’re in a hurry you may hop in the car and start to back out of the driveway without looking over your shoulder or in your mirrors (assuming the back up camera is doing the work for you). One should never assume that gadgets are working automatically. Driver activation and assistance may be needed.
One of the contributing factors of car accidents today is failing to stay in the proper lane, whether driving on the shoulder, moving into the adjacent lane, or crossing the centerline. Lane assist technology acts as a second set of eyes for the driver and will alert the driver if an unintentional move into another lane is detected. At the time of the alert, the distracted or drowsy driving will have the opportunity to regain control of the wheel.
A main concern with “alerting” technology like this is that overtime, drivers may become immune to the sounds of alerts or the vibration of the wheel and rather than preventing a distraction, drivers may continue to be distracted all the while ignoring lifesaving alerts.
An Additional Distraction
As with any technology in a vehicle, it’s important that a driver understands how each component works before getting behind the wheel. For instance, if a driver is unaware of how park assist technology works before he or she tries it out, he or she may be more focused on the technology than driving safely.