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GPS Usage and Distracted Driver Auto Accidents

According to studies by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, driver distraction is estimated to be the cause of approximately 25-30% of all roadway collisions in the United States each year. When hearing the term “driver distraction” most people think of talking on cell phones, or eating while driving. One of the most common and underestimated danger on the roadway that causes driver distraction, however, is the use of GPS tracking devices and navigational systems. The greater number of devices in your car, from cell phones to GPS navigators to on board entertainment systems, the greater the distraction possibilities. GPS tracking devices are just one cause of automobile accidents, but they contribute to the distractions of drivers in the following ways:

Voice Command Disabled: NHTS also found that when GPS users mute the device they increase their distraction level — without the voice commands, drivers spent more time looking at the screen than the road Turning off the audio voice function of most GPS tracking devices forces drivers to physically look at the device while driving to determine how to get to their desired destinations.

Inputting Commands While Driving: All too often drivers are inputting information such as destination addresses into their GPS systems while driving, similar to texting on the roadways. There is a statistical link between GPS devices and car collisions and this is a clear indication that drivers rely heavily on GPS units to arrive at their destinations. Additionally, this reliance leads to confused drivers because sometimes the GPS maps are out-dates or do not accurately reflect construction and/or detours.

Overconfidence: The more confident you are in what your GPS tells you, the less likely you are to notice something is wrong. With GPS software, the road that may appear the shortest distance between point A and point B might actually be an unpaved road owned by private residents. If a GPS does not recognize this accordingly, drivers could end up on unsafe terrain or involved in other hazards, such as artificial lake or train tracks. In separate incidents in 2008, two Metro-North trains collided with cars whose drivers had not questioned their GPS units’ instruction to “turn right” onto the train tracks of Westchester County, N.Y., according to The New York Times. Fortunately, the accidents caused no injuries, but they led to cancellations, hours of delays, and costly damages. Satellite navigation systems have created a number of problems, including damage to low bridges from trucks led down inappropriate roads, cars abandoning main roads and needing rescue from cliff-edge paths, and sleepy towns overrun by a sudden surge in satellite-navigated traffic.

This “automation paradox,” described in the Washington Post by Shankar Vedantam, explains how disaster can erupt from over-reliance on technology meant to decrease human error. Although mainly addressing automated systems like cruise control, Vedantam cites a cruise ship accident in which crewmembers were so trusting of their GPS that when it accidentally disconnected, the crew did not notice and simply followed the emergency replacement route. Greg Jamieson of the University of Toronto told Vedantam, “The problem is when individuals start to over trust or overly or become complacent and put too much emphasis on the automation.”

GPS are used regularly in Florida, but people forget how they are a source of driver distraction. The best thing to do is look up where you are going before putting your car into drive. Furthermore, keep the voice controls on and do not input any information while on the roadways. If you or a loved one have been injured by a distracted driver, call Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA today for assistance recouping your losses and getting the help you deserve. Call 727-451-69000for a free consultation.

Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765


See other causes of distracted driving auto accidents: