Distracted driving causes numerous car accidents today. Extensive crash research conducted by traffic safety organizations such as the National Transportation and Highway Safety Agency (NTHSA) have demonstrated that distraction causes accidents.1 Auto accident attorneys agree that anything that takes a driver’s attention off the road can cause an accident.
So what about GPS navigation? GPS is designed to help drivers, yet many personal injury lawyers have noticed that GPS may be more distracting than helpful. Attorneys are seeing more cases than ever today that have resulted from drivers being distracted by the GPS system in the car they were driving.
The Dangers of Driving Distractions
There are many ways in which drivers can be distracted and cause an auto accident. In 2014, over 431,000 people were injured and 3,179 killed in accidents attributed to some form of driver distraction.2 While many of these accidents were caused by distractions such as texting while driving, drowsiness, and other diversions, many auto accident lawyers have seen a growing trend in accidents occurring while drivers are attempting to use either cell phone or on-board GPS navigation systems.
Why GPS Navigation Is A Distraction
Even though GPS navigation was a useful tool designed to help drivers, it is distracting. Whether the GPS is on cell phones or an on-board system, using GPS requires drivers to interact with the navigation system and take their attention from driving. In fact, drivers often take their eyes off the road longer than if making a phone call. Voice controlled navigation systems help only marginally, since many drivers have difficulty operating them. Paying attention to the spoken directions from a navigation system can cause some drivers to unintentionally ignore their surroundings, which in turn increases the likelihood of an accident.
Safe Use of GPS Navigation
It is possible to gain the most benefit from GPS navigation without becoming distracted, although it requires planning ahead. Personal injury lawyers and safety advocates advise drivers to learn ahead of time how to use their navigational systems and program destinations before driving. On a positive note, many auto GPS systems do not allow adjustments to be made if the vehicle is not in Park.
If adjustments need to be made along the way, pull over and stop driving to make them. For those who are comfortable with voice controlled systems, be sure to use them. Mistakes do happen with GPS systems, so drivers must pay have a general idea of the route they will be taking and avoid blindly following directions. Drivers who use GPS systems for navigation need to remain aware of the movement of traffic around them and the actions of other drivers. Above all, personal injury lawyers stress that drivers must keep their eyes on the road at all times.
GPS navigation can be a helpful driving tool when used safely and correctly. Unfortunately, auto accident attorneys are seeing that GPS can be a dangerous driving distraction as well. Considering the possibility for distraction, personal injury lawyers stress the importance of safe use. Drivers must learn how to operate their GPS before heading out onto the roads and also be sure to not be distracted by their GPS. Lawyers overseeing cases involving distracted drivers agree that with proper use, anyone can get to their destination safely with the help of GPS navigation!
Hildebrand & Wilson, Attorneys at Law
7930 Broadway, Suite 122
Pearland TX 77581
1NHTSA: Traffic Safety Facts - Distracted Driving 2013
2Distraction.gov: What Is Distracted Driving? Key Facts and Statistics, 2014