High-tech cars join the fight against distracted driving

Texting while driving has been banned in Florida since October 2013, but as in other states with such bans, the law's impact has been limited, and distracted driving crashes remain commonplace. In the near future, technology may play an increasingly significant role in keeping drivers focused and preventing accidents.

Distraction-detection systems

Some new technologies strive to reduce distracted driving accidents by interacting with drivers about their levels of attentiveness. General Motors, the nation's largest vehicle manufacturer, recently announced that it is planning to equip half a million new vehicles with driver monitoring systems over the next few years. The technology uses automated cameras and computers to track drivers' eyes and head position to detect when they may be paying too much attention to anything other than driving.

If the new sensors detect that a driver's head or eyes are turned away from the road or rearview mirrors for longer than they should be, the system will notify the driver and suggest corrective action. In addition to detecting when a driver is texting or distracted by other activities such as eating or grooming, the monitors can also be used to discern when a driver may be drowsy or nodding off, thus preventing additional accidents by helping to ensure that drivers are awake and alert.

Car-to-car communication

Other new systems bypass drivers and allowing vehicles to communicate directly with one another about their traveling speed, location and potential hazards on the road ahead. These systems utilize onboard sensors and wireless technology to enable vehicles within a certain range to communicate at speeds of up to 10 exchanges per second.

Vehicle-to-vehicle communication technology addresses several of the most common accident types, in which texting and other distractions frequently play a role. These include intersection collisions, such as T-bone and left-turn accidents, which often occur when one driver fails to notice a traffic signal or approaching vehicle. They can also help prevent accidents in other situations, for instance when a vehicle is approaching a blind turns or driving in hilly areas, where even attentive drivers may be unable to see one another until the last moment. When a stalled vehicle, crash or other hazard occurs in situations with limited visibility, a few seconds of advance warning for oncoming drivers can potentially mean the difference between life and death.

The federal government has announced plans to make such systems mandatory in new vehicles in the years ahead, saying widespread adoption could help prevent 1,000 deaths and many more accidents each year.

Get legal advice after a crash

If you or a family member has been hurt in a crash, you may wish to speak with a personal injury lawyer about the situation. Oftentimes, injured crash victims are able to seek financial compensation through the civil legal system, potentially enabling them to recover their lost wages, medical bills and other damages stemming from the crash.