Technology Defect And Distracted Driving Accidents

A safety group is suing Ford Motor Co. on behalf of vehicle owners due to defects in the so-called “infotainment” systems installed in certain vehicles. The Center for Defensive Driving is a non-profit driver safety group that believes Ford’s failure to correct defects in the MyFord Touch, MyLincoln Touch and MyMercury Touch systems represents a safety hazard for drivers. Infotainment systems have drawn increasing scrutiny from safety experts as the number of car accidents attributed to distracted driving has grown.

Automakers have been asked to voluntarily restrict the functions available in their infotainment systems. Some within the industry are reluctant to do so, arguing that anything that cannot be handled by built-in systems will simply be accomplished by cell phone. A driver is no safer using a cell phone to search the Internet than using a system built in to the vehicle. Safety groups are simply concerned about providing drivers with a host of options that are not conducing to safe driving practices.

The systems at issue in this lawsuit have been the subject of numerous customer complaints. The lawsuit contends that the devices may freeze up, black out, fail to connect to mobile devices, fail to contact 911 in an emergency and exhibit other malfunctions which are taking the attention of drivers off the road.

Despite the apparent drawbacks of the devices, they are growing in popularity. Ford indicated that almost four out of every five of the vehicles sold by the company in 2013 were equipped with the MyFord Touch system. If the devices are causing accidents, the impact could be massive.

Source: Chicago Tribune, “U.S. driver safety group sues Ford over touch-screen systems,” by Jessica Dye, 16 July 2013

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