Most drivers use cellphones while behind the wheel

Most drivers use cellphones while behind the wheel

Motor vehicle accidents caused by distracted drivers have become worryingly commonplace in New Mexico and around the country. While many issues are to blame, some road safety advocates are pointing fingers at smartphones and sophisticated navigation systems. Vehicles traveling at highway speeds cover a distance as long as a football field in just 5 seconds, and a recent Consumer Reports survey suggests that an alarming number of drivers routinely take their eyes off the roads for far longer.

More than half of the motorists polled by Consumer Reports admitted to using their cellphones to watch videos, browse websites and send text messages while behind the wheel. Wireless service providers including Verizon, Sprint and AT&T as well as electronics manufacturers like Apple have introduced features that disable distracting smartphone functions while vehicles are in motion. However, critics say that these added features do little real good because using them is voluntary.

Many car makers lure buyers by fitting their vehicles with advanced driver information and entertainment systems. Unfortunately, using this equipment can be just as distracting as typing or reading a text message on a smartphone. Government accident figures reveal that the problem is serious. According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration figures, distracted driving crashes killed 3,477 road users and left a further 391,000 injured in 2015.

In addition to elaborate entertainment and navigation systems, many modern cars feature black box-type devices that constantly monitor vehicle speeds and driver inputs. When a car accident is caused by a distracted driver, an attorney could pursue civil remedies on behalf of any victims. Black box information devices could help prove negligence.

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