Bring An Equalizer to the Fight. Choose a Firm That Was Created to Advocate for Victims.

Are Connected Cars to Blame for Distracted Driving Accidents?

While San Diego drivers are generally responsible for their actions by the wheel, evidence suggests that their increasingly “connected” cars may be compounding the distracted driving epidemic. Automakers are increasingly adding features such as social media connectivity and web surfing to their new vehicles, which makes us wonder how all of this impacts driver safety.

As detailed by Consumer Reports, Toyota’s new Entune system, which will be available this fall, can link with smart phones and allow drivers to access onscreen Web information such as weather forecasts and stock quotes. It also allows them to search the Web and sort through the onscreen results. Meanwhile, other car companies offer features that allow drivers to listen to and/or send texts, Twitter tweets, or Facebook posts.

“Within five years, 90 percent of new cars will ship with connected car features,” predicts Dominique Bonte, group director of telematics and navigation at ABI Research, a technology consulting firm. For consumers, he says, those services are now “extending their connected lifestyle into the car.”

Unfortunately, all this connectivity has a price, according to many safety advocates. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says they pose yet another potential source for driver distraction, already a growing problem. He told Consumer Reports that automakers “need to really think about all of these things that they’re putting in automobiles now and what impact they have on the driver’s ability to drive safely.”

Safety advocates also note that the influx of new features also results in a more complicated control system.

“All manufacturers are struggling with the question of balance between safety and technology,” says Bryan Reimer, Ph.D., associate director of the New England University Transportation Center. “Just because you can provide the content doesn’t mean you should,” says Reimer, who studies the impact of technology on drivers. “In many situations, driving takes most of our attention; we’re not capable of doing much more.”