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Technology and its effects on distracted driving

Distracted driving is a huge problem for Minnesota drivers. Numbers from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reveal distraction as a factor in 14 percent of all traffic accident reports with unofficial estimates being much higher. According to the Centers for Disease Control, nine people die each day because of distracted driving. With the ubiquity of smartphones and an ever-connected population, the problem will not go away on its own.

Awareness campaigns against distracted driving tend to focus on smartphones and other handheld devices, but the fight to reduce distracted driving involves both high-tech and low-tech solutions. With 52 percent of drivers admitting to the use of phones in the car, a huge emphasis must be placed on reducing this number. Software developers have created several apps that use GPS systems to disable texting functions while driving. Some apps specifically target teen drivers and will alert parents and provide information about driving habits. One app, SafeDrive, makes a game of avoiding phone usage, and drivers accumulate points for driving safely. Another app, Focus, senses phone movement and audibly tells drivers to stop looking at the phone.

While limiting smartphone usage behind the wheel is a key to limiting accidents, so is reminding drivers about more traditional distractions like grooming or staring at roadside distractions. Another source of distraction is modern infotainment systems that require attention to a touchscreen. Consumer Reports now considers these systems and their ease of use in the organization's overall car ratings system.

When distracted driving causes car accidents and injuries, consulting a qualified accident and injury lawyer may help provide information about options for recovery. A lawyer may be able to help prove the negligence of a driver who caused a severe accident in an effort to reclaim compensation for the victim.

Source: National Center for Statistics and Analysis. "Distracted Driving: 2015, in Traffic Safety Research Notes." National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. March 2017.Source: USA Today. "The Best Tech to Prevent Distracted Driving." Jolly, Jennifer, May 29, 2016.

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