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Understanding GPS and How It Plays a Role in Distracted Driving

Written by Cooper and Friedman on November 29, 2017

distracted drivingAs car accident attorneys, we recently shared a blog post on scary driving statistics that every driver should know. We were surprised to find that distracted driving is the leading cause of car accidents in the United States. Almost 80% of all accidents on the nation’s highways are caused by distracted driving, according to the NHTSA. Most people think of texting and driving when they hear the words “distracted driving”. Truthfully, there are plenty of things that distract drivers besides their cellular devices. Some of the most common distractions include:

  • eating fast food while driving
  • applying makeup in in the rear view mirror
  • observing an event outside of the vehicle

Another cause of distracted driving that isn’t often considered, but does cause a number of accidents on the highways, is the use of Global Positioning Systems (GPS).

The first thing to know about Global Positioning Systems (GPS) is how they work and what they are for. A lot of people don’t know that GPS is a government owned and run utility. GPS uses a series of satellites that send signals through three segments: the space segment, control segment, and user segment. The United States Air Force maintains, operates, and improves the technology behind the space and control segments of GPS. Then citizens of the U.S. maintain and improve the user segment through feedback. Through these segments, the United States government is able to keep GPS free and available to the public while also controlling it from falling into unsafe hands. But how does the government control GPS from causing more harm than good on the roads?

Does GPS Play a Role in Distracted Driving?

The majority of car accidents caused by distracted driving are attributed to cell phone use. The real question is what are users doing on their cell phones at the time of an accident? The most common answer is texting and this thought has been reiterated again and again through the media. However, it is pertinent to consider the fact that every cell phone has GPS built right into it. What is to say that many distracted driving accidents are caused by people using their cell phones to get directions?

Whether your GPS is built into your phone or a free-form device, it could be playing a role. Unless you are only interacting with it before your car is on and in motion, it is a distraction. Using your cell phone to contact a friend while driving or type in the address of where you’ll meet said friend both involve texting. In the same case, typing an address into your standalone GPS system also requires taking your eyes off of the road and your hand off of the wheel.

The role that Global Positioning Systems play in car accidents caused by distracted driving is not clear.

It is thought that the use of GPS in the car can decrease car accidents. GPS makes drivers more confident in where they are going. It also allows drivers to take shorter routes and reduces the amount of second guessing drivers who aren’t familiar with an area make. On the other hand, GPS gives people the ability to drive in an area with only GPS as a guide and increases the risk of drivers panicking if they are unsure of its capabilities to give directions. It is also likely that GPS causes drivers to think they do not have to pay as much attention as is necessary to operate a motor vehicle. In either cases, GPS has the ability to increase the likelihood of a car accident occurring.

Currently, it is illegal in 14 states to use a cell phone while driving regardless of why.

Forty-seven states have banned texting while driving including the state of Kentucky. However, the use of GPS is not yet regulated in Kentucky. This may increase the risk of being in a car accident when distracted by a Global Positioning System. It is best practice to set your location prior to operating your car and not use any form of technology while driving. If it is necessary, take the nearest exit or pull to the shoulder before distracting yourself with other tasks besides driving.

If you have been a victim of a car accident that was the result of distracted driving, you may be eligible for compensation. Call the Cooper and Friedman Law Office today at 502-459-7555 for a free consultation with a car accident attorney. We’ll listen to your case and determine the next best step to take towards legal action. With over 50 years of combined experience working with victims of car accidents caused by distracted driving, you’re in the right hands when you choose the Cooper and Friedman Law Office.

Posted Under: Car Accidents, Truck Accidents

Contact Cooper & Friedman Attorneys At Law today at 502-459-7555 to schedule a free initial consultation