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Distracted driving may be wired to vehicle tech

California is one 47 states that ban the use of a cellphone while driving and one of 16 states that prohibit texting and driving. However, the use of electronic devices continues to be a major cause of car accidents in this country and this technology continues to grow.

Distracted driving causes 3,500 fatalities each year. This also led to 390,00 injuries. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reported that cell phones were involved in 26 percent of all vehicle accidents.

Texting does not cause most accidents, however. Talking, including hands-free talking, was a factor in 21 percent of all accidents. Tapping on keys or reading messages were involved in five percent of crashes.

Manufacturers have installed a large amount of safety technology into vehicles such as ABS brakes, airbags and side curtains, crumple zones, alerts for riding too close to objects, seat belt warnings, sound system muting when the car is in reverse and stepping on the brake to start the car. However, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reported that manufacturers can do more.

First, motorists assume that the hundreds of buttons, touch screens heads-up displays and voice commands in the vehicle mean that they are safe, or they would not be in the vehicle. They take their eyes off the road to use these devices. These devices have multiplied over the last few years.

The risk of an accident increases when a driver's eyes are diverted for more than two seconds. By comparison, it takes 4½ seconds to read a text. Use of Google's Android and Apple's CarPlay took off several seconds from the time that motorists were distracted compared to the infotainment systems installed in the vehicle.

Vehicle manufacturers can also install existing technology that recognizes that most drivers are going to drive with their phones on and continue to use them. For example, Ford's SYNC system sends texts dictated by the driver and reads incoming texts out loud. This is somewhat safer because hands-free communication was found to be safer than handheld devices, according to a Virginia Tech Transportation Institute report.

A recent study, however, found that daydreaming caused 61 percent of all fatal distracted crashes while cellphone use caused 14 percent. Regardless of the cause of distracted driving, an attorney can help gather evidence and pursue a lawsuit for compensation.

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