According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than eight people are killed a day and 1,161 are injured in crashes due to distracted driving. In another study conducted by AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 58 percent of teen car accidents are caused by distracted driving. These statistics, while concerning, are a sobering reminder of how taking your eye off the road for even a split second can change your life.

Beyond smartphones

While many of the distracted driving stories we often hear about are surrounding those who are driving and distracted because they’re on social media, sending a text or making a phone call. What you don’t hear about as often are the accidents caused by drivers distracted by the technology within the car.

There’s an auto insurance commercial that talks about car technology mayhem and how we’re so obsessed with how awesome the technology in our car is that we forget to pay attention what’s ahead. That isn’t just a commercial to convince you to buy their insurance. Whether you want to believe it or not, in-car infotainment (i.e. navigation, satellite radio, apps, etc.) still requires you to take your eyes off the road. In other words, the cool tech we have in our cars is also another form of distracted driving.

"We have so much power behind the wheel. However, it’s our responsibility to know when and where to use the technology we’ve been given."

Finding solutions

Fortunately, the same automakers that design the center console also supply cars with technology designed to keep us from getting out of hand while we drive, including disabling most navigation options while a car is in motion and do not disturb buttons to keep drivers from using their phone while driving. In addition to trying to get a handle on distracted driving, automakers understand that they cannot control everything and are developing other technologies to protect the driver. Options like forward collision prevention, automotive emergency braking and lane monitoring are just a few examples of car safety features created to keep the driver, passengers and others on the road safe.

We have so much power behind the wheel. However, it’s our responsibility to know when and where to use the technology we’ve been given. Whether you’re a new driver or someone who’s been driving for years, the rules when you’re behind the wheel don’t change: be smart, be safe and keep your eyes on the road.