GPS systems made for cars but not necessarily safe to use while driving

Texting and driving and other forms of distraction cause thousands of accidents each year. GPS systems may also cause dangerous distractions.

Distracted driving, particularly the type that involves phones and other handheld devices, has been at the forefront of public awareness in recent years. This is not for any trivial reason - serious motor vehicle crashes resulting from distracted driving can compete with drunk driving crashes or accidents resulting from reckless driving. According to Distraction.gov, 3,154 people were killed and an additional 424,000 were injured in distraction-related collisions in 2013. Residents of Georgia would have been among these tragic numbers.

Different types of distractions increase road dangers for everyone

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have classified driver distractions into three groups: visual, manual and cognitive. Visual distractions include those that take a driver's eyes away from the road. Manual distractions involve the driver's hands or feet in relation to operating the vehicle. Cognitive distraction affects the driver's concentration. Some common examples of distracted driving include the following:

  • Eating or drinking while behind the wheel
  • Bending over to pick up something that was dropped
  • Grooming or looking in the mirror
  • Adjusting the radio or watching a video
  • Texting or talking on the phone while driving

Reading or answering texts is particularly dangerous, states the CDC, because it involves all three distraction types - visual, manual and cognitive. Using a smartphone to text behind the wheel takes a driver's hands, eyes and mind away from the crucial tasks required to drive safely.

What about GPS devices?

Can other handheld devices, such as a GPS system, also be as dangerous as texting and driving? Depending on how a GPS is being used, it can potentially involve manual, visual and cognitive distractions. A recent fatal accident involving a man who was using a GPS system may show how this can be a dangerous activity. WSB-TV News reported that this September in College Park, a man was lost near the airport and started using his GPS. After making a wrong turn, he made a U-turn in front of a motorcycle and crashed. The motorcyclist was killed, and the other driver charged with involuntary manslaughter, failure to use due care with an electronic device and making an improper U-turn.

People may not consider GPS systems to be dangerous, since they are designed to be used in the car. However, it is important to understand that these devices should be used with caution, as with any type of device that may take a driver's attention off the road. Many authorities suggest that drivers pull into a parking lot or to the side of the road to use a GPS, in the same way they advise to pull over before using a phone to talk or text.

If you are injured by a distracted driver, you may be eligible for the compensation of your expenses and losses. You will need to contact an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible after your accident.