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These days, smartphone companies – and even motor vehicle manufacturers – are promoting the use of hands-free devices. They all claim that the use of a hands-free device will dramatically reduce your risk for an accident, but is that the case? Unfortunately, hands-free devices have created a false sense of safety for drivers. Because it is not the use of your hands that makes it dangerous, but rather all of the cognitive distractions that come along with a conversation, hands-free devices may not be safer. In order to stay 100 percent safe, you need to keep your eyes on the road, your mind on the task ahead of you, and your hands on the wheel.
How Hands-Free Devices are Not Risk-Free
According to the National Safety Council, car accidents are the leading cause of unintentional deaths in the United States. They estimate that nearly 100 people die each day in the U.S. in a car accident.
The cause of these accidents are often attributed to distractions – this means that these deaths are highly preventable. EVen so, most drivers take comfort in hands-free technology. They enjoy the fact that it allows them to stay connected. However, the latest studies have already shown that distractions are still present, even with hands-free devices. A study conducted by AAA and the University of Utah found that:
- Over half of drivers in the United States have admitted that they use their phones while driving (even if it is illegal in their state to do so).
- In a survey, 53 percent of drivers reported using their phones occasionally in the month they were interviewed in.
- 34 percent of those same drivers stated that they used hands-free devices while using their phone – and 60 percent admitted to using their phones while driving without any hands-free devices.
- Young drivers use their phones while driving higher than any other age group – and instead of talking, they are often texting while driving.
Whether you are using hands-free technology to text or talk, the act of engaging in a conversation is the dangerous distraction that causes accidents. For example, if you are discussing a project with your team at work on your hands-free device, you may be thinking about deadlines, project to-do’s, future meetings, etc. While your hands are still on the steering wheel, your mind is focused on the conversation; therefore, you are not focusing on the road ahead and your reaction times are significantly reduced. You may even be so mentally distracted that you ignore traffic signals or fail to look for pedestrians when crossing a crosswalk.
The other issue with hands-free devices is the fact that you still often have to take your eyes from the road to use the device. Whether you are verifying that your device is calling the right person or you are verifying your speech-to-text message is correct, even a brief second away from the road is dangerous.
Regardless of their claims, research has shown that hands-free devices are just as dangerous as those that require your hands. If you need to use a hands-free device, pull off to the side of the road or wait until you are no longer in the vehicle before using it.
Were You Injured by a Distracted Driver?
Despite the research and evidence, there are still those who choose to drive while using hands-free devices or even texting on their phones. If you have been involved in an accident caused by a distracted driver, contact a Washington personal injury attorney. Schedule a no-obligation consultation today with Brett McCandlis Brown PLLC by calling 800-925-1875 or filling out our online contact form with your questions.