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Wearable Technology Plays a Role in Auto Accidents and Resulting Injuries

Recent Study Cites Wearable Technology as a Factor in Distracted Driving Crashes

Do you currently wear an Apple Watch or another type of wearable technology? Can this type of tech increase your car accident risk? According to a recent study conducted by Murtuza Jadliwala, an assistant professor of computer science at the University of Texas at San Antonio, wearable technology may be playing a role in the increased rate of distracted driving accidents and injuries after a car accident. More precisely, “Jadliwala and his collaborators discovered that, while a driver texting with a wearable device can marginally reduce their level of distraction, it ultimately makes texting while driving just as dangerous as with an ordinary cell phone.”

What is wearable technology, or “wearable tech” for short? According to an article in Wareable, while wearable technology used to be popular only among a relatively small group of people, it has more recently “gone mainstream, and the hottest devices on the planet are now ones you can place on your wrists, arms, and faces.” Most often, people are buying these gadgets in order to be able to talk or text without having their hands on a cell phone. Examples include “smartwatches,” which “are wrist-worn devices that connect to your mobile phone to act as mini-windows onto your digital life,” as well as fitness trackers, “smart” jewelry, and even implantable devices.

Many people invest in wearable tech because they assume it is easier and safer to use—especially in the car—than a handheld cell phone. Yet according to Jadliwala’s recent study, this does not appear to be the case. In fact, it seems to result in the opposite, causing sometimes severe auto accident injuries.  The study was a collaborative project by Jadliwala and two professors of psychology at Wichita State University and Oregon State University. How did they conduct the study? In short, they recruited volunteers—about 20 of them—and they asked them to use a driving simulator while talking or texting on a smart phone or using Google Glass.

Getting the Facts About Distracted Driving

There were two major problems with participants who used wearable technology to talk or text while driving: First, they had an accident rate almost as high as distracted drivers using a handheld device, and second, the wearable technology “gave the participants a false sense of safety.” In other words, a driver using an Apple Watch, for example, might assume it is safer for him or her to send texts when in fact such behavior is almost as distracting as sending a text with a smart phone in hand. More injuries after a car accident, and more collisions in general can result.

Distracted driving is a major problem across the country. It can result in severe auto accident injuries, and even death. The National Safety Council (NSC) provides some of the following facts and information on the reasons for distracted driving accidents:

  • Drivers assume they can multitask, but studies show they simply cannot;
  • Crash reports do not currently provide accurate information about the rate of smart phones in causing car accidents—the numbers are much higher than the reports suggest;
  • Hands-free does not mean “risk free”—in fact, thousands of people die in car accidents or experience a severe auto accident injury each year that were caused by drivers using hands-free devices;
  • Up to 94% of all car crashes are caused by driver error, including distracted driving;
  • On average, at any given point, about 7% of all drivers are using cell phones and are putting others at risk of injury in a distracted driving crash.

If you need help filing a distracted driving claim for a car accident lawsuit, you should discuss your case with an experienced car accident attorney.

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