New technologies designed to enable drivers to use their smartphones while on the road may be responsible for a dramatic increase in the number of vehicle accidents nationwide, according to experts on traffic safety.
At issue is the ability of wi-fi in vehicles to connect to the internet and apps. As a result, both drivers and passengers can do everything from stream Spotify to ask a virtual assistant for navigation. The new technologies may contribute to distracted driving.
Startling rise in accidents attributed to tech-related distracted driving
The concern is fueled by recent startling increases in the number of vehicle accidents. During the first six months of 2016, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported 17,775 fatalities on the nation’s roads, more than 10% above the figure reported for the first six months of 2015. The figure equates to over 296 fatalities monthly.
The number of fatalities in 2015 showed the most dramatic increase in vehicle collision deaths in 50 years. Prior to 2015, traffic deaths had been showing steady declines for several decades.
Officials of the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America Insurance companies have stated that they believe distracted driving associated with the spiraling use of electronic devices is the biggest contributor to the recent increase in fatalities.
Distracted driving has been associated with technology before. A decade ago, concern about the effects of talking on the phone and sending texts while driving led to laws making it illegal to call or text. The law in New York State law, as a result, regulates against talking, texting, or engaging in video games while holding a portable electronic device.
No legal prohibitions, however, exist for hands-free use of technology. Newer systems allow drivers to use apps and computer systems via wireless services.
President of the National Safety Council Deborah Hersman thinks that the ability to wirelessly connect may spur more use of smartphones in the car, which may lead to more distracted driving. Hersman is the past chair of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board.
Dramatic cases indicate danger from technology
Several recent dramatic cases indicate that use of social media while driving is associated with accidents. A court case in Georgia hinges on a September 2015 accident in which a teenage driver drove at 100 mph while using Snapchat, a social media app popular with people under 20.
A Florida case shows that one person in a crash that was responsible for the deaths of five people took a Snapchat video showing the speedometer registering 115 mph. The video was apparently taken right before the collision.
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Distracted driving is negligence. If you or a loved one have been hurt as a result of a driver becoming distracted by technology or any other reason, contact us today.
Given the complicated nature of distracted driving law and accidents in New York state, it’s very important to consult a law firm with expertise in car accidents and New York’s no-fault insurance.
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Additional distracted driving resources
- Boudette, Neal E. “Biggest Spike in Traffic Deaths in 50 Years? Blame Apps.” New York Times, November 16, 2016. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/16/business/tech-distractions-blamed-for-rise-in-traffic-fatalities.html
- Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee, New York State. Distracted Driving, Talking, and Texting. http://www.safeny.ny.gov/phon-ndx.htm