San Francisco-based tech company Navdy is currently accepting pre-orders for its heads-up display (HUD) for use in cars. The display allows smartphone users to access navigation, music players, and communication features without looking at their phones, by projecting the necessary visual information on the vehicle’s windshield.
Navdy claims that the device will be safer than manipulating a smartphone with one’s hands or using in-car systems. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has judged that in-car systems increase the risk of a crash three times over while the driver is using them.
Nevertheless, many safety advocates and Texas distracted driving accident attorneys remain skeptical. For instance, a 2007 study of HUDs in cars found that the devices are more efficient at presenting information than dashboard-mounted systems. However, researchers at Munich University of Technology and IBM also found that using a HUD limited drivers’ peripheral vision, reduced their ability to pay attention to obstacles in the car’s path, and caused them to overestimate the distance between their vehicle and a vehicle ahead of them.
Navdy’s promotional materials for the new device have claimed that, because airline pilots use HUDs, the devices are safe to use in cars. However, a 2004 NASA study of HUD use in aircraft saw mixed benefits. The devices were safer in some ways for pilots to use. However, they also created similar problems to those found in the Munich University of Technology study. Both studies agreed that more research was needed.
Currently, the safest way to combine smartphones and driving is to put the smartphone away entirely until the vehicle is safely parked. You can help protect yourself and those you love by practicing smartphone safety when you drive.