August 23, 2012

Distracting Dashboards

The government is offering grant money to states who pass distracted driving laws.

“I actually have the auxiliary cords to plug in my iPod, my phone. That’s usually what I do.”

“Oh, no. You feel it out. You got the volume right here. You got each different CD.”

Scott: GPS, radio, iPods, even internet at your fingertips – a few of the gadgets that are showing up on car dashboards. But those entire dashboard attractions are also distractions. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving plays a part in one out of every four crashes in the U.S., killing more than 3,000 people a year.

Okay. So, tell me. When you are driving your car, is it difficult to, kind of, manage?

“I pay attention to the road and feeling around like a blind man, you know. But, it’s all natural.”

“There are times where the GPS is recalculating, and I have to — while I’m at a red light or even driving — I have to reset it. And, it’s very dangerous.”

Scott: So dangerous, the government is now focusing on those dashboard distractions.

“Our guidelines are saying to car companies ‘If you’re going to put all this technology in cars, don’t allow people to use it while they’re supposed to be driving safely.’”

Scott: The Department of Transportation released new guidelines calling for automakers to:

  • Disable certain functions while driving
  • Restrict the number of button presses for a single task to six
  • And limit the time a driver needs to look away from the road to two seconds

To take a closer look at dashboard distractions, we headed to Consumer Reports in Connecticut with an expert in all things automotive, Director of Automobile Testing David Champion.

Now, you have heard about texting while driving and drinking while driving and why those are really irresponsible things to do, but what about those other distractions in the car like the dashboard?

David Champion: When you think about the old dashboard, it used to have a couple of switches and a very meager radio. When you look at dashboards today, they’ve got all sorts of stuff on them. So, here we are – major controls look pretty good. The trouble is when you come to this thing. This is connected to my iPhone, so I have lots of music on here. When you think – two seconds eyes off the road, greatly increases your risk of a crash.”

Scott: Did you catch that?

“Two seconds, eyes off the road is no time when you’re driving. And, as my son found out, he happened to be looking out of the window at something. The cars in front stopped. Boom! Straight into the back of the car.”

Scott: It may sound like common sense, but the point of it all is to keep your eyes on the road.

“When you’re interacting with something, it’s still press, look up. Press, look up. Press, look up. It doesn’t mean: one, two, three, four, five, six.”

Scott: But David says, really, the only safe time to use most of this technology is when the vehicle is completely stopped.

“When you think about a car, it is the most lethal weapon that people have. There is 6,000 teens killed every year, mainly due to excessive speed, loss of control and maybe not paying attention to what they’re doing. That’s 500 kids a month.”

Scott: Your junior class is gone.

“Yeah. Boom. End of story. It is huge.”

Scott: Scott Evans, Channel One News.


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