It is very likely that when technology progresses to the point that vehicles can drive fully autonomously, without any input from a human, fatalities from distracted driving will go down enormously. They may even be eliminated altogether.
However, we are not yet at that point. While you may not currently have access to a completely self-driving car, you are likely to have a vehicle that is semi-autonomous sometime in the near future. Semi-autonomous cars split the responsibility of driving between the car’s automated technology and its human driver. According to the MIT Technology Review, the driver receives an alert to take over when the automated system is not able to make a decisive move. Because it may be difficult for some people to maintain alertness when they are not controlling their vehicle, some experts worry that semi-autonomous technology may actually lead to an increase in distracted driving.
They use as an example a Tesla driver who died earlier this year after a truck in the road was not sensed by the car’s autonomous system. The incident is still under investigation; however, it has been suggested that the driver was not paying attention due to the fact that he failed to hit the brakes prior to crashing into the truck.
Tesla and other manufacturers are working on improving their technologies to prevent accidents that like from happening. For instance, General Motors is developing software that will sense if your eyes are not on the road. Other companies are working to implement software that perceives if your hands have been off of the steering wheel for too long. Failure to heed a series of warnings would result in the automated system being shut down until the engine is restarted. This is provided as general information on this topic and should not be considered legal advice.