If you are like most people in Ohio, you regularly see or hear advertisements promoting new car models and the advanced features they often offer. Many of these features are focused directly on improved safety, like automatic braking or forward collision warning systems. Other features focus more on driver convenience, assistance and even enjoyment. These systems are often referred to as infotainment systems.

A typical infotainment system in a new car today allows a driver to make or receive phone calls or texts, play music, program and follow navigation and more. Some of the tasks can be completed in a hands-free mode while others may require some manual interaction on the part of the driver. All require some level of cognitive energy to be diverted away from the task of driving.

A study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reviewed 40 such systems and rated them based on the level of demand they required from drivers. Demand included cognitive, manual and visual. A total of 29 out of the 40 systems were found to place a high or very high demand on drivers, meaning they are highly distracting. The remaining 11 systems placed a moderate demand on drivers. AAA recommends that a safe system place only a low demand on drivers. Out of all tasks, programming and using the navigation feature in an infotainment system was found to be the single most distracting.

This information is not intended to provide legal advice but is instead meant to provide residents in Ohio an overview of how some of today’s modern technologies may actually exacerbate the problems associated with distracted driving.