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'Heads up' display may not be the best for distracted driving

The North American International Auto Show in Detroit last month drew more than 200,000 car enthusiasts who were interested in the latest available technologies as well as concept cars that will eventually be on the road in years to come. Indeed, the prevailing talk is about the future of self-driving cars, and how soon they will be seen on the road. However, the current technologies still bring around a great number of fans. 

An example of this is the “heads up” display that many automakers are incorporating. Essentially, it is a display where a driver will see information from their display panel basically floating in the air in the driver’s line of sight. So a driver can see how fast they are going, obtain turn by turn directions, and know which direction they are going without looking down at the instrument panel; thus taking their eyes off the road.

The notion behind this innovation is that the less the driver has to look away from the road, the chances of a distracted driving accident can be reduced. However, some safety advocates believe that heads-up displays may not curb distracted driving. In fact, a 2013 study published by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety suggests that additional mental distractions (such as those provided by heads up displays) may lead to the brain being overloaded with information and hamper a driver’s ability to react to common hazards (such as stopped traffic or children running into the street). Regardless of whether this actually is the case, it is a reminder of the duty drivers have to use reasonable care while behind the wheel. 

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