Joe DeLago, CEO of Good2Go Auto Insurance Company, has issued written pleas to CEOs of American auto manufacturers to eliminate technological distractions from all new vehicles sold. April is nationally recognized as Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and Good2Go is fighting to bring awareness to the growing epidemic.
Distracted driving, which occurs when drivers divert their attention from the driving task to focus on another activity, such as texting or dialing a cellphone, is a major contributor to auto accidents in the U.S. In fact, in 2013, distracted driving caused 10 percent of fatal crashes and 18 percent of all injury crashes. Worse, distracted driving contributed to 3,154 deaths and 424,000 injuries in motor vehicle crashes.
“With thousands of people dying and hundreds of thousands more becoming injured, distracted driving is a huge threat to the safety of American citizens,” said DeLago. “It is imperative that we do something to decrease that threat. Good2Go has led the charge on that front with our Cellphone Safety Discount, but we can’t do this alone – auto manufacturers need to help.”
DeLago argues that automakers are actually encouraging distracted driving by creating dashboards with smartphone features and Wi-Fi capability.
“As manufacturers continue to cater to Millennials, they’re adding more and more technology to vehicles,” DeLago said. “These connected vehicles are drawing drivers away from the ultimate task: driving. Auto manufacturers need to eliminate distractions rather than adding to the problem.”
Volkswagen, Honda, Mazda, Subaru, Hyundai, Ford, Chevrolet, Kia and Dodge have all offered models with Bluetooth technology standard since 2013. Even using a hands-free device to control a cellphone can delay a driver’s reactions as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08 percent. Whether the technology is hands-free or not, there is a significant, four-fold increase in accident potential.
“It is as if automakers are installing full-service bars in lieu of glove compartments in their new cars,” said DeLago. “Would we, as a society, accept that?”
Wi-Fi capability is the latest technology being pushed by auto manufacturers. Some makers, like Chevrolet, cater to parents, with commercials featuring small children using their Wi-Fi connection to power video games. However, children aren’t the only ones using the Internet. Ford is on the forefront of in-dashboard Internet with its SYNC3 system. This kind of interactive technology requires higher-level visual and audio functioning, which distracts the brain from the most important task, which is driving safely.
“At Good2Go, we believe that it is important for auto manufacturers to prioritize the safety of drivers over the attractiveness of technology as a selling feature,” said DeLago.
To learn more about Distracted Driving Awareness Month, visit the official US Government website for Distracted Driving: distraction.gov.