Road signs are designed to help drivers navigate area streets safely by providing information about street names, dangerous curve warnings, deer crossing zones and more. We rely on road signs to communicate potential dangers and remind us to use caution behind the wheel; but now, a new study says that some signage may be causing more harm than good.
Heads-Up Displays (HUDs) may be creating more potential for distraction and accidents, according to a new study conducted by the University of Toronto. HUDs, also known as Augmented Reality, project graphic images onto a vehicle’s dashboard to provide drivers with navigational assistance, traffic updates, road and weather conditions and changes, and collision alerts and other dangers.
Too Much Distraction?
HUDs are being developed by all major car manufacturers that plan to utilize the displays to keep drivers safer. HUDs can provide accurate traffic and safety predictions and warnings, which could help drivers avoid accidents. The data is presented in the car so that drivers do not have to look away from their usual views behind the wheel, nor will they need to lower their heads to see the alerts.
But the university’s study has found that drivers end up getting distracted by paying more attention to the changing displays than the road ahead of them. The HUD must be interpreted by the driver, which diverts his or her concentration between the road and the images displayed.
Ian Spence, a professor of the Department of Psychology and the report’s lead researcher, wrote, “Not only will drivers have to concentrate on what’s happening on the road around them as they’ve always done, they’ll also have to attend to whatever warning pops up on the windshield in front of them.”
The study found that the distraction from HUDs can create the potential for serious accidents if a driver is drawn away from the road for too long. HUDs present many different types of information (sometimes all at the same time), and some drivers may be subject to information overload. There is a lot to process on the road already, and adding in warnings about immediate dangers and weather conditions could cause too much of a mental strain.
Additionally, drivers may miss warnings because they expect the HUD to relay certain pieces of information, while some drivers may simply have slower reaction times. Unfortunately, some drivers may pay too much attention to the HUD rather than the road itself — which is the exact opposite of what the HUD is designed to do.
As technology continues to change and develop, it is natural for us to want to use it to our advantage — especially if it can keep us safe on the roads. But the use of HUDs may be detrimental overall, as it presents too much opportunity to be distracted from the actual act of driving.
At Levine Law, we represent anyone who has been injured in a car accident as a result of another driver’s distraction or negligence. For more information regarding vehicle safety features and personal injury options in the state, contact a Denver car accident lawyer at Levine for a consultation today.