Are Voice-controlled Infotainment Systems Safe in Cars?

Auto Accident

By Thomas L. Stroble, Partner, Stroble Law.

Talking, texting, emailing, getting directions, or any similar activities on a handheld device can cause dangerous distractions for drivers. Due to the risks, the large majority of states have banned texting for all drivers, while 14 states and the District of Columbia have banned all use of a handheld device.

In response to the concerns regarding distracted driving and the increasing number of state laws, many car manufacturers have begun installing voice-controlled systems in their vehicles that can perform many of the tasks of a smartphone while the driver keeps both hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road.

These systems—commonly called “infotainment” systems—can help drivers with a variety of tasks and can connect to many apps, allowing many drivers to do the following and more:

  • Stream Pandora or other internet radio
  • Listen to podcasts
  • Navigate to their destination
  • Make Bluetooth phone calls
  • Send text messages or emails
  • Check the weather and traffic reports
  • Check gas prices or sports scores
  • Make restaurant reservations

Potential to cause significant distraction

While voice-activation control sounds much safer to use than a device with a touch screen or manual buttons, these systems still have the potential to cause significant distraction. Some of the systems are substantially more complicated to use than others, requiring a driver to take their focus away from the road and concentrate on correctly using the system. Cognitive distractions can be just as risky as manual or visual distractions and can lead a driver to make an error that results in a collision and serious injuries.

While, in many ways, these systems are a much better option than texting or typing on a phone, drivers should still be fully aware of the risks. It is a good idea to disable or simply avoid using the more complicated functions while the vehicle is in motion. Additionally, when choosing a vehicle with an infotainment system, you should choose one that is user-friendly and relatively simple to control.

If an infotainment system does lead to an accident, injured victims have the right to recover from the distracted driver. Anyone who has suffered an injury in an auto accident should contact an experienced Michigan auto accident attorney today to discuss a possible legal claim.

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