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Driving while distracted is dangerous. It’s as simple as that. Two items in the news this week make that point abundantly clear.
First, a scientific study conducted by AAA found that using voice-to-text technology is far more distracting than talking on a cellular phone. The study measured reaction times and studied the brain waves of drivers engaged in different types of distracting behaviors while driving. Reaction times and concentration of people using their voice-to-text phone applications were significantly slowed, even compared to someone holding a cellphone in hand and carrying on a conversation. Recent technologies being added to the consoles of newer model vehicles tout themselves as safe because they are “hands-free” or “heads-up”. We believe they are still distracting, and still dangerous. Driving at high speeds on congested roads requires a singular focus which is impossible if you are simultaneously trying to navigate the computer-telephone-map-touchscreen stereo system embedded in your center console.
Secondly, a report issued this Tuesday by the Florida Highway Patrol shows that even trained drivers like police officers can be distracted by technology, and with tragic results. An investigation into an accident that occurred on February 5th near Fort Myers FL has found that a Highway Patrolman was distracted by the laptop computer mounted in his unmarked patrol car. He was traveling approximately 85 miles per hour, and ran into the rear end of a family’s car traveling south on I-75. The car flipped over several times, and the family members were all injured. Tragically, the woman in the passenger seat lost her unborn child. She also crushed both of her legs, crushed her pelvis, broke her hip, and punctured her lungs. The family members have accumulated over $500,000 in medical bills. After the investigation was completed this week, the FHP officer was cited for careless driving that was responsible for all bodily injuries and property damage. The investigation found that he was distracted by looking at his onboard computer at the time the accident occurred. However, no criminal charges are being made against the highway patrolman.
As we said at the beginning: distracted driving is dangerous. Period. Please protect yourself and your loved ones by remaining alert on the road, and avoiding distractions of any kind. Your emails and text messages can wait.