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Speaking to your car: Convenient, or Deadly?

We have all seen the commercials, a popular NFL quarterback calling an “audible” because of traffic ahead, or the suave owner asking his car where to eat, or a wife chatting with her husband, all possible with the aid of the hands free voice controls in their cars. The purpose of voice controls is to help drivers to use their cell phones or change the radio while keeping their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road. But we must stop and ask ourselves, are these voice automatic controls a distraction in and of themselves? Are they any more safe than picking up your cell phone to talk or changing the radio with your hands?

Distracted driving is the cause of 3,000 of the 33,000 highway fatalities each year. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has stated that it does not plan on addressing voice controls until at least 2014, but that has not stopped some independent experts from testing the safety of these new automotive features. A study commissioned by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that when people were placed in a simulator where the car would read them and e-mail, it took much longer to react to brake lights ahead than when they were listening to the radio or speaking on a cell phone. That said, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has reported that automobile crash rates are dropping significantly, including fatal and non-fatal crashes, so perhaps voice controls are a way to reduce automobile fatalities.

While the verdict is still out on the safety of automobile voice controls, drivers must remember that any distraction while driving is dangerous. While navigation systems often help us get from point a to point b they can cause us to look away from the road ahead or to get caught messing with the many buttons and controls. Drivers must also be aware that other drivers on the road can be distracted and cause accidents with sometimes catastrophic results.

When someone is injured or killed as a result of negligent or distracted driver, victims may be able to take action to hold them responsible. Accident victims often face mounting medical bills, future surgeries, in addition to disability, disfigurement or lost income. Accident lawsuits empower victims by helping them recover compensation for these harms. They also raise public awareness surrounding issues such as distracted driving, which may lead others to think twice before picking up the phone or playing with their navigation system while driving.

Our Chicago attorneys have been handling automobile accident and injury cases since 1992 and have a very successful history of punishing distracted negligent drivers while providing justice for those injured.

If you or a loved one was injured by a negligent driver, contact an attorney to better understand your rights under the law.