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Internet in Car Dashboards Raises Concerns About Distracted Driving

As a Deerfield Beach car crash attorney, I have been following the increased media coverage on the problem of distracted driving. On Jan. 7, the New York Times explored a new threat in its “Driven to Distraction” series: Internet browsing while driving. This is already possible to some extent thanks to “smartphones,” but the Times reported that automakers are now developing ten-inch computer screens built directly into the dashboard. These “infotainment centers” would include navigation information, controls for music and even videos and Web pages. The systems have warnings not to use them while driving, and disable some features while the car is in motion. But experts interviewed by the Times said they were concerned about the safety effects of putting the devices literally front and center in vehicles.

The systems are the result of collaboration between major computer manufacturers and automakers, and were displayed with pride at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Spokespeople for the companies say consumers want these features, especially busy consumers looking to get business done in the car. But safety and technology experts believe the dashboard-mounted screens run contrary to growing awareness of the dangers of distracted driving. A researcher at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute said there’s already evidence that looking at a screen while driving raises the risk of a crash. That risk goes up exponentially the longer the driver looks away from the road. A professor at MIT went further, saying “[I]t is a continuation of the pursuit of profit over safety — for both drivers and pedestrians.”

I would like to believe that drivers can make safe decisions even with these options — but as a Davie auto accident lawyer, I’ve seen far too much evidence to the contrary. Auto accidents were a leading cause of death and brain injuries even before cell phones were widely available. Unfortunately, far too many people simply don’t take their responsibilities behind the wheel seriously — at least until they’re involved in a crash. At that point, it may be too late to prevent deaths or catastrophic injuries, both to the driver and to the other motorists and pedestrians who happen to be nearby. Because car crashes can be so serious, I believe it’s appropriate to do rigorous testing to determine whether in-car computers can be used safely. If they cannot, automakers should consider disabling distracting features while the car is on the road, and governments should consider aggressive anti-distraction laws and enforcement.

Based in Broward County, Cohn, Smith & Cohn represents Florida residents and visitors who were seriously hurt in traffic accidents caused by someone else’s negligence. Our Hialeah car wreck lawyers regularly see clients whose lives were changed forever by just a few moments of carelessness. This includes not only the physical pain and injuries of an accident, but also the emotional trauma and anguish of a permanent disability or losing a loved one. And unfortunately, in many cases, it also means high medical bills and the loss of an income necessary to pay those bills. A lawsuit can help accident victims cover these and other accident-related costs by holding the careless driver who caused them responsible. It can also fairly compensate clients for their pain, suffering, and any disability or death.

If your family has been affected by a car crash that was no fault of your own, you should call Cohn, Smith & Cohn for help. To set up a free consultation on your case and your rights, please contact us through our Web site or call our main office in Hollywood at (954) 431-8100 today.

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