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Is your car the real distraction?

You may have seen movies set in the future where a character climbs into a vehicle that carries him or her to a destination without the person having to control the speed of the vehicle or clutch a steering wheel. In these cases, the passenger is free to drink champagne, listen to music or carry on dramatic conversations with others who may not even be in the vehicle.

This scenario may not be far off, but for now, you must still keep your attention on the road and remain in control of your vehicle or risk causing a tragic accident. To prevent this, Texas and other states pass laws limiting distractions for drivers, such as talking on cell phones, texting and, in some cases, simply holding a mobile device. However, AAA's Foundation for Traffic Safety recently studied the 30 new models of cars and found that the real distraction may not be your mobile device.

Infotainment systems

The newest car models must, of course, have the latest technology. It is no longer enough to have an AM/FM radio or even a CD player. Cars now include options for a variety of music apps as well as capabilities for accessing other media, including from your mobile device.

However, entertainment is only part of what new car systems contain. The second element is information. Among the options available in the latest new cars are controls for navigation systems, weather, traffic and local attractions. Consumers expect high-quality infotainment systems in their new cars, and with this quality also comes complexity. AAA's recent tests raise concerns about the distractions involved in complex infotainment systems.

Two hands, 10 fingers, 50 buttons

The tests performed on the newest car models alarmed researchers who watched drivers consistently distracted by the mechanisms on their dash boards, steering wheels and windshields. Some cars have up to 50 buttons and controls for their infotainment systems, and 23 out of the 30 cars rated "very high" when calculating the level of distraction to use them.

In particular, controlling the navigation systems in many cars is complicated, taking the eyes of some drivers from the road for up to 40 seconds. Even when traveling at a low rate of speed, for example 25 mph, your car continues to travel without your attention to the direction or obstacles ahead.

Taking control

Distracted driving is fast becoming one of the primary causes of many deadly motor vehicle accidents. Whether your accident resulted from a driver using a handheld device or manipulating the infotainment system inside the car, you have every right to seek redress for your injuries. There is no excuse for a driver not giving full attention to the very serious task of operating a motor vehicle. When you pay the price for another person's negligence, you deserve to have protection for your rights.

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