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Hands-free technology may not solve distracted driving problem

Former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood hasn’t quit thinking about safe driving issues and policy matters, if a recent interview is any indication. Once again, he characterized smartphone use behind the wheel as an epidemic and called for a multi-faceted response.

This time, LaHood is calling upon car manufacturers to voluntarily raise their safety standards. Options like voice-recognition and Bluetooth are new features that are popular with many car owners. However, a person who is multitasking behind the wheel might not be devoting his or her full attention to road conditions and traffic signs and patterns. As a result, that driver could be at greater risk of an auto accident. Distracted driving can lead to injuries or even wrongful death.

LaHood’s recommendation is for such hands-free technology to be limited to GPS or other car-related functions when the vehicle is in motion. Doing so might ensure that drivers are exercising a proper standard of care behind the wheel.

A jury might be unsympathetic of a driver that caused an accident due to smartphone use. Although a driver may not have intended to cause personal injury, a civil lawsuit generally does not require a showing of intent. Instead, an auto accident lawyer might focus on evidence that demonstrates that the other driver was negligent. An attorney might help a victim of distracted driving recover compensation for pain and suffering, lost wages and medical expenses. The lawsuit can be protracted, but choosing a good attorney might make the process more bearable. At a minimum, an attorney might provide assistance during a victim’s recuperation, allowing that person to focus on healing, instead of the lawsuit.

Source: bits.blogs.nytimes.com, “LaHood Says Companies Must Wake Up to Distracted Driving,” Matt Richtel, July 24, 2013

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