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One text or call can wreck it all. For years, we’ve addressed the dangers of cell phone distrac­tions. Now there’s another concern, many new cars and trucks have technology such as text messaging and internet searches which have nothing to do with driving a car.

The auto industry should focus on reducing distrac­tions not creating them.  The industry can stop creating visual and mental distrac­tions so drivers can focus on the one thing that matters most, driving safely.

Infotainment Systems Are Distracting

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety commis­sioned a research study through the University of Utah to examine the visual (eyes off road) and cognitive (mental) demand as well as the time it took drivers to complete a task using the “infotainment” systems in 30 new 2017 vehicles. Drivers used voice command, touch screen and other inter­active technologies to make a call, send a text message, tune the radio or program navigation, all while driving.

The findings are very concerning, partic­u­larly the fact that programming a GPS navigation system caused the most distraction, 40 seconds – the time it takes to travel the length of four football fields. AAA said the study was done to help automakers make infotainment systems easier for drivers to use safely. Marshall Doney, AAA’s President said “Drivers want technology that is safe and easy to use, but many of the features added to infotainment systems today have resulted in overly complex and sometimes frustrating user experi­ences for drivers,”

The study also found that most vehicle infotainment systems tested could easily be made safer by locking out text messaging, social media and GPS programming while the car is in motion.

Joel Feldman, co-founded The Casey Feldman Foundation and EndDD.org with his wife, Dianne, in memory of their daughter, Casey Feldman, a 21 year-old pedes­trian who was killed in a crosswalk by a distracted driver.  Mr. Feldman spoke with CBS news recently about Consumer Reports’ study on the most and least distracting infotainment systems.

Distracted Driving is Deadly

With distracted driving claiming 3,477 lives and injuring 391,000 in the U.S. in 2015, action is required to make the roadways safer for everyone. “Distracted driving is an epidemic,” said Wayne Hogan, president of Terrell Hogan. “It’s not just about texting. Talking on the phone – even hands-free carries the same crash risk as drunk driving. Compounding the problem are newer vehicles with dashboard technology tempting us with constant, but dangerous, connec­tivity. Our message is simple: One text or call can wreck it all.”  To date, the Terrell Hogan Distracted Driving Awareness Campaign has reached over 7,200 teens and adults on the First Coast through its presen­ta­tions.