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Studies continue to link new tech to distracted driving

Most drivers in New Jersey don't doubt that technology is distracting more and more people behind the wheel. The U.S. Department of Transportation has noted a 10 percent rise in car crash fatality rates from 2014 to 2017, and this could be traced to the increased use of smartphones and in-car infotainment systems. A recent AAA analysis showed just how distracting both can be.

In this analysis, researchers from the University of Utah had 64 participants drive in five different vehicles and use the built-in infotainment system. At other points, the drivers were asked to use Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, interfaces that run off a smartphone. The infotainment systems turned out to be more distracting. The interfaces were not perfect, either, and they demanded more or less attention based on the function being used.

Besides mobile tech, vehicle automation may be worsening the problem by making drivers complacent. For years, MIT researchers have been studying the effect of features like Tesla's Autopilot on driving behavior. Agero, a provider of vehicle safety and roadside assistance systems, made its own study on automation and found that drivers between the ages of 17 and 22 are especially vulnerable to its influence. These drivers were found using their phones for 12 percent of their time on the road.

Distracted driving can give innocent victims a valid reason for filing a car accident claim since it is a form of negligence. Victims may want to consult with a lawyer beforehand. A lawyer might take advantage of a network of professionals to have the case thoroughly investigated.

After the evidence of negligence has been gathered, the lawyer may then negotiate for a settlement covering medical expenses, vehicle repair costs and whatever else is applicable. If the auto insurance company refuses to pay, the lawyer could litigate.

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