There is more technology than ever available to buyers of new cars in 2017. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety conducted a study on drivers using in-vehicle technology including voice commands and touch screens. The study found that drivers were visually and mentally distracted for more than 40 seconds when performing a task such as entering a destination into a navigation device or sending text messages.
AAA also conducted a public opinion survey in which 70 percent of adults in the United States want new technologies to be available int heir vehicles, however, only 24 percent of survey respondents said that it already works perfectly as it is supposed to do. AAA found that there is significant frustration resulting from “unsatisfactory use” of these systems.
Florida Law On Using In-Vehicle Technology
At present, Florida law on texting and driving prohibits the use of person to person communication by text messaging, emailing, or other means where characters must be input by a person driving a car (see the Florida Ban on Texting While Driving Law).
Florida does not prohibit drivers from operating navigation systems or operating music or entertainment systems while driving (except for video screens visible to the driver). Some vehicle manufacturers have speed based lockouts for entering destinations into navigation systems while driving but virtually none have lockouts for entering entertainment information while driving (changing a station on Pandora or any streaming service).
What If There Is An Accident While Using An Infotainment System?
Car accidents in Florida are decided based on negligence. If a jury considers that a driver’s activities were “negligent,” then it does not matter if there is no statute, rule, or regulation prohibiting such conduct.
For example, most civil juries would likely consider using a car’s navigation system as negligent if car is in motion and an accident happens. The mere fact that an accident happens using such a system is an indicator of negligence because that same accident most likely would not have happened if the driver had not been operating the infotainment system. The best practice for operating such systems is to pull off the roadway to do what needs to be done. This is simply what people expect of other drivers as no one wants to get hit by a driver who should have been paying full attention to the road.
Is The Manufacturer Responsible Or Partly To Blame For An Accident Involving Infotainment Use If It Is Hard To Use?
Unfortunately, the infotainment systems that come in virtually all new cars have a level of complexity that requires a driver to be distracted if they are to operate it while in motion. There are no effective federal or state safety requirements for these systems and it is up to the manufacturers to adequately test these systems before placing them on the market.
While there is the potential for a car manufacturer to get sued for a product liability claim because their system was difficult for a driver to use, such as claim is defensible in that:
- the driver was not required to operate the system at the time of the accident;
- the driver could have become more familiar with the system before using it while in motion;
- the system had a warning against using it while the car is in motion and the driver disregarded it;
- the system cannot be designed to accommodate all uses.
There are possibly some extraordinary cases where the warnings on a system are inadequate or that the design was so flawed that a jury may determine that the system should not be on the market. These are extraordinary cases in which a vehicle manufacturer may be held legally responsible, in whole or in part, for an accident involving an infotainment system.
Will Insurance Pay For An Accident Caused By Someone Texting Or Using An Infotainment System?
Using an infotainment system when you probably should not be doing so is negligence. Every automobile liability policy that I have ever seen pays when the driver was acting negligently at the time of the accident. There is no exclusion for use of these systems even if they are poorly designed.
What Should I Do If I Have Been Injured By A Driver Using An Infotainment System?
If you have been injured in a car accident where the other driver was distracted by an infotainment system, you should discuss your case with an attorney to determine the merit and value of your case. A consultation with a Lakeland car accident attorney is free. We handle car accidents in Lakeland, Florida. Our office is located on Lakeland Hills Boulevard if you would like a consultation with an attorney.