GPS and Distracted Driving: The Dangers of Over Reliance on Technology

GPS and Distracted Driving: The Dangers of Over Reliance on Technology

by / Friday, 26 June 2020 / Published in Motor Vehicle Accidents, Tips
GPS screen attached to windshield of car

For many drivers, GPS is a routine part of their driving habits, whether they’re just out running errands or taking a road trip. Very rarely do drivers reference paper maps when they need to figure out how to reach a destination. Instead, services like Google Maps, MapQuest, and Waze can instantly suggest a few different routes, give you step-by-step instructions, and alert you to things like construction and heavy traffic.

But with how common GPS has become, it can be easy to forget that it can be a distraction at times. Distracted driving includes anything that makes a driver take their eyes/focus off the road or their hands off the wheel. While texting and making phone calls while driving have become synonymous with distracted driving, many other things can cause it as well, including GPS systems.

In 2018, it was reported that programming navigation devices is the most distracting thing a person can do while driving. This makes it even more distracting than sending/receiving text messages or making phone calls. Research has found that programming a navigation takes an average of 40 seconds, so if someone tries doing that while driving, that’s a considerable amount of time to have your eyes and attention off the road. On the other hand, the CDC estimates that sending or reading a text message takes your eyes off the road for five seconds.

Because of this, one of the best things you can do to stay safe while using GPS is make sure you program it before you start driving. If you find yourself needing to take a new route or head to a different destination after you’ve started driving, find a safe place to stop while you adjust your GPS.

Another common mistake people make when using GPS systems is muting the sound or turning the volume down low so that they can pay more attention to music on the radio or conversations with other people in the car. However, this can be very dangerous because it forces the driver to keep taking their eyes off the road to check the GPS. Even if you took a couple extra minutes before heading out to get familiar with the route, it’s still best to make sure you can clearly hear those audio cues.

Sometimes, drivers can act unpredictably if they realize they’ve made a mistake like missing a turn, leading to a crash. There have also been some cases of drivers getting into car accidents by following GPS instructions without checking their surroundings first to make sure it’s safe to first. For example, a driver might suddenly move into a turn lane because their GPS system told them a turn was coming up and hit another car already in the lane. If you make a mistake while driving, it’s better to just keep going and let your GPS system recalibrate to get you back on track. If your GPS doesn’t automatically recalibrate if you get off course, find a safe place to stop and readjust your GPS system.

Another important thing to do to stay safe is make sure your GPS is easy to see and is firmly secured. If you’re using your phone for directions and just set it someplace like in a cup holder, it’s harder to see and there’s a chance that it will fall out of place while making a turn. If you can’t get your directions to show on your in-vehicle display, use a dashboard-mounted stand to keep your phone within sight and in place.

Regardless of how a car accident is caused, the injuries they cause can have a serious impact on your life. And while insurance companies might seem sympathetic to your situation, remember that they do not have your best interests at heart. Insurance companies are strongly interested in getting people to settle for as little money as possible, even if it doesn’t cover all of your long-term needs. Working with a car accident lawyer means you’ll have someone on your side who can fight for you to get all of the compensation you need. At Goodwin & Scieszka, we’re highly experienced in helping the victims of Michigan car accidents. Contact us to find out how we can help.

Image: iStock / StudioThreeDots