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Part II: What happens when a traffic safety expert buys a new car?

Regular readers of our Lake Charles Legal Blog will recall that a few days ago, we shared a story about Dr. Neil Chaudhary, a traffic safety expert who recently purchased a new vehicle. The distracted driving specialist for the Preusser Research Group (PRG) said he was struck by the large infotainment system in his car’s dashboard.

“My assumption was this thing wouldn’t be in my vehicle if it was going to be a distraction,” Chaudhary said. “But I found it incredibly dangerous.” He cited research that shows that the systems can be especially dangerous for older drivers, who can be distracted for eight seconds longer by the systems than younger drivers and thus be more likely to cause a motor vehicle crash.

“I completely agree with the researchers that vehicle manufacturers need to consider older operators when they design vehicles,” Chaudhary said.

He doesn’t subscribe to the common theory that older drivers are more dangerous, he said, pointing out that studies show the opposite. But he said the infotainment systems can be more problematic for older drivers because they’re poorly designed and difficult to use.

A AAA spokesperson said the in-dash systems have functions that “have the potential to extend the mobility of older drivers,” but that “poor design, complex systems and in-car position that make it difficult to easily complete simple tasks are causing more harm than good to older drivers.”

The reality is that for drivers of any age, time spent looking at the dash instead of at the road and at traffic dramatically raises the risk of being in a motor vehicle crash.

Chaudhary said PRG is about to begin analyzing data gathered in Louisiana and other states to determine how often drivers “reach for the dashboard or interact with the vehicle infotainment system.”

Those who have been hurt in a car wreck caused by a distracted driver should contact a Lake Charles attorney experienced in personal injury litigation.

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