Modern cars incorporate more technology in their designs than ever before, to the point that some vehicles can operate autonomously. While federal and state law forbids drivers from talking on their cell phones, playing games, or sending text messages when behind the wheel, legislation has its blind spots. You may be surprised to learn that Virginia does not have any specific law against using car infotainment systems while driving.
However, people who are injured by distracted drivers still have rights. If you were hurt by a motorist whose use of an infotainment system contributed to an accident, you could be entitled to compensation through an insurance settlement or personal injury lawsuit.
The Dangers of Car Infotainment Systems
Infotainment systems provide a single hub where motorists can control music, air conditioning, phone calls, and more. While infotainment systems are supposed to reduce driver distraction by putting the controls for critical tasks and entertainment in one small area, they do not always work as intended. Researchers from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety have found that infotainment systems, in spite of their intent, cause drivers of all ages to pay less attention to the road.
Even with this data, neither Virginia nor the federal government has any special laws dictating how and when infotainment systems can be used. Title 46.2-1077 of the Virginia Code only forbids television receivers from being installed within view of drivers and does not otherwise limit potentially distracting digital displays. In fact, Title 46.2-1077 exempts infotainment functions such as:
- Electronic map displays
- Closed-circuit cameras such as rear-view cameras
- Visual displays intended to provide drivers with a better view of vehicle passengers
Virginia, like most states, does not have any other legislation prohibiting drivers from playing music, searching radio stations, or adjusting controls—even when they are driving in heavy traffic.
How Infotainment Systems Contribute to Accidents
Almost everyone with a modern automobile has some type of infotainment system, and anything with the potential to distract a driver has the potential to contribute to an accident.
When drivers use an infotainment system, they are taking their eyes and mind off the road. This leads to:
- Slower reaction times
- An impaired ability to make quick decisions
- An increased likelihood of missing roadway obstacles, such as stopped vehicles, pot holes, and other objects with the potential to cause or facilitate an accident
Personal Injury Law and Infotainment Systems
Even though Virginia does not forbid the use of infotainment systems, it still has laws against distracted and reckless driving.
If a motorist’s use of an infotainment system—whether they were browsing radio stations or struggling with their car’s climate control—contributed to an accident, your Virginia car crash attorney can use this to show that the other driver was at fault and bears financial and legal responsibility for the accident.
However, proving that another driver was distracted by an infotainment system can be difficult. Your lawyer will help you determine the cause of your crash and whether an infotainment system was involved by:
- Requisitioning police reports, surveillance camera footage, and any eyewitness testimony that indicate the circumstances and potential causes of the crash
- Evaluating the infotainment system included with a particular vehicle make and model
- Investigating whether an individual motorist made any alterations or adjustments to their vehicle’s infotainment system that could have contributed to an accident
- Subpoenaing “black box” information to see what systems were in use at the time of the crash
- Analyzing all available evidence to build a compelling case designed to maximize your potential settlement
Time Matters in Infotainment-Related Crashes
If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a Virginia motor vehicle accident, you should not have to bear the cost of recovery alone. While you may not know whether an infotainment system was responsible for your accident, our team of highly trained legal professionals will perform an intensive investigation into the cause of your Virginia car crash.
However, it’s important to act fast. The longer you wait to take action, the greater the chance that critical evidence will be lost. If you wait too long, you may even miss the Virginia statute of limitations for car accident claims, making it impossible to recover anything.
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