In California, cell phone use without a hands-free headset has recently been made unlawful.  Ironically, GPS navigation system (a device to enable a car driver to easily get around town with a computer/satellite device) sales have been increasing.   As auto accident attorneys, our main concern lies with the safety of the car driver and the passengers.  We believe GPS car navigation systems can possibly be more distracting to an automobile driver than even handheld cell phones.

While many cars do not allow a driver to input information when the car is moving, there are other distractions one should consider, such as: (1) there are portable GPS devices which allow navigation information to be input when one is driving (for now, to our knowledge, these devices are unable to detect that a car is moving) … very distracting and (2) those cars that come with built-in GPS systems, despite the fact they turn off when the car is moving, people still try to input information through other means.  For example, when their car is stopped at a red light or perhaps they might pull over to an unsafe side of the road (such as in a red zone).

First, driving with a GPS car navigation system often requires typing in a full address: street name, street number, city, state, and zip code.  Most address information requires the car driver to type in a about 30 letters/numbers.  Plus, the automobile driver is looking probably back and forth between the destination address and the car’s GPS, not to mention listening to the GPS’s audible driving instructions.  Also, what happens if the GPS malfunctions or the driver puts in the wrong information?  This might be very confusing and result in erratic driving as if one were “lost.”  Another way to examine this issue, using a GPS can be difficult (many come with several hundred page manuals) and at least with a MAP people should know where they are located as opposed to be taken to a strange location by a GPS computer.

Accordingly, a car driver’s eyes can be taken off the road for extended periods of time.  We believe this can be more dangerous than a car driver making a simple call on his handheld cell phone, which takes just a couple seconds pressing the call and end buttons.

Some companies have tried to solve the use of hands on a GPS by installing voice navigation systems; however, our firm, as auto accident attorneys, believe that voice navigation systems are hard to get to work properly, since everyone’s voice is different.  Plus, a GPS in a car is even harder to navigate through voice control, since the background noise while driving an automobile (music, surrounding cars, acceleration sounds, etc.) contribute to the sounds inputted into a car’s GPS system.

As car accident attorneys, we know that the use of GPS car navigation systems and cell phones both may cause automobile accidents.  But that does not mean we, as auto accident lawyers, we are completely against the use of GPS car navigation systems.  Instead, we believe they must be designed and used safely.  Since GPS is an amazing new technology, safety improvements and laws should be made to make car trips easier for drivers.

Recognizing dangerous distractions, however, we believe it may be more realistic to regulate the ways in which the GPS car navigation systems are used.  Drivers who use GPS systems probably make entries in the GPS while driving.  That may endanger everyone else on the road.  One step to possibly eliminate this GPS use danger is to make GPS navigation systems that will work only when the car is turned off.  As GPS navigation systems are able to detect location, they will also be able to detect a rough speed that the car is driving at.  As car accident attorneys, we believe that letting the driver input new data into the GPS while the car is stopped may decrease the number of motor vehicle accidents on the road.

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