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Older drivers distracted by touchscreens, other in-vehicle tech

Many in Kentucky drive "smart cars" with high-tech devices involving touchscreens and voice command features. While these devices are meant to reduce the amount of time drivers take their eyes off the road, they still tend to be confusing, especially to older drivers. A study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has found that older drivers become more distracted than younger drivers do by this in-vehicle technology.

For this study, researchers at the University of Utah had two groups, one composed of drivers aged 21 to 36 and the other composed of drivers aged 55 to 75, use in-vehicle tech while operating a 2018 model vehicle on the road. Among the tasks they performed were sending texts, dialing phone numbers, plotting navigation and setting up music to play.

These actions demanded more, both visually and cognitively, from the second group. Many of the older drivers felt that some tasks were too time-consuming. Even honking the horn or adjusting the AC can become complicated in newer cars. Researchers believe that infotainment technologies should only be used for urgent matters.

Ironically, it is mostly older drivers who purchase newer vehicles since they have the resources to do so. However, if drivers were to familiarize themselves with in-vehicle tech before buying, they may avoid the dangers of distracted driving.

Anything that takes a driver's eyes off the road is a distraction, so even without new car features, drivers can become negligent. When distraction is to blame for motor vehicle accidents, those who were injured through no fault of their own may pursue a claim. If they were partially at fault, victims may still be eligible for compensatory damages, but the amount may be lowered. In any case, victims might want to seek legal counsel before moving forward.

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