As technological advances continue to pile up to improve the safety of vehicle occupants, some advancements seem to be working across purposes. The introduction of numerous advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) such as blind spot monitoring, brake assist and lane-keeping assist, have allowed drivers to become more confident that their vehicle is protected by technology. Unfortunately, some advances make it easier for drivers to be distracted while behind the wheel.
In a recent safety faux pas, an Ohio state senator was caught participating in a Zoom video conference while driving his vehicle. He had set up a generic home-office background, but was clearly wearing a seat belt and engaged in the act of driving. Additionally, the senator could be seen scanning his surroundings and the movement of his eyes indicated he was checking his mirrors.
Are more distractions coming?
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for technology to advance in ways that it perhaps should not. In a highly publicized statement in 2020, Elon Musk confirmed that Tesla vehicles would likely use a cabin-facing camera mounted on the rear-view mirror for video conferencing in the future.
Even though video conferencing is largely a hands-free activity, the main distraction is cognitive. Participants will likely be thinking about the meeting in progress, considering their responses and framing questions that need addressed. Additionally, video conferencing participants cannot help but to look at their own image to adjust the view they are submitting to the meeting in general. This represents a dangerous visual distraction.
Distracted or negligent drivers can cause devastating vehicle collisions resulting in serious injuries such as brain trauma, spinal cord damage, paralysis or amputation. These catastrophic injuries can dramatically impact the victim and the entire family for decades to come.