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Smart cars may prove too distracting for older drivers

Seat warmers, reverse parking cameras and automatic windshield wipers are just a few of the technological advances available for drivers in New York and across the United States. While these high-tech perks can make driving more enjoyable, they don't come without risk. A new study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has found that older drivers may become distracted by this new technology, putting them at risk of traffic accidents.

The study looked into the driving habits of 128 participants. The participants were divided into two age groups. One group consisted of younger drivers ages 21 to 36, and the other group consisted of older drivers ages 55 to 75. Both groups were asked to drive one of six 2018 model cars. The vehicles were deemed "smart cars" that had a variety of technology features, which included voice activation controls and navigation screens. Drivers were asked to drive for two miles while operating various technologies in the car.

Researchers found that the older drivers took longer to complete the tasks than younger drivers. Previous studies have indicated that distracted driving is a significant contributor to motor vehicle accidents. Making smart cars more user-friendly and teaching older drivers how to navigate the systems may help reduce distractions and car wrecks.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, 28 percent of fatal accidents in 2017 were caused by drivers ages 55 to 74. Distracted driving is an increasing concern among law enforcement officers and elected officials. Drivers have the responsibility to pay attention to the road while driving. When a distracted driver causes a motor vehicle accident, he or she may be responsible for damages. A lawyer may be able to use car data to show that the driver was using technology at the time of the accident. This might help prove that the driver behaved negligently and is responsible for damages for injuries incurred.

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