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Hands-free phone calls are still driving distractions

On Behalf of | Jul 2, 2021 | Car Accidents

While most states have some type of driver cell phone use restrictions in place, experts might fear that this creates a false sense of security around convenience features. For example, while nearly all states ban texting and many states ban the use of a hand-held electronic device, hardly any legislation limits the completion of hands-free phone calls or voice-to-text messaging. Unfortunately, these hands-free activities still represent dangerous driving distractions.

A driver participating in a hand-held phone call is obviously experiencing a manual distraction (an activity which requires a hand away from the steering wheel). More troubling, however, is that the conversation itself represents a cognitive distraction in which the driver’s attention and focus is drawn away from the road. The driver is listening to the conversation, thinking about the conversation and considering his or her responses in the conversation. This brainpower is pulled from the safe operation of the motor vehicle and can lead to devastating lapses in attention.

Is hands-free safer?

As technological advances continue to progress toward driver-assisted or fully autonomous vehicles, car manufacturers hope that safety features continue to improve. Among these are heads-up displays (HUD), voice-activated controls and wireless connectivity. The ability to simply speak in the vehicle cabin and complete a phone call is an astonishing improvement over years past. But, are drivers truly safer?

Several studies have looked at the correlation between hand-held phone use bans and the number of police-reported vehicle collisions. Some analyses found that collision numbers reduced while other studies saw an increase in vehicle crash insurance claims after the ban. Still others found the numbers to remain flat. Unfortunately, the results are inconclusive at best.

Most data suggests that the mental interference caused by the conversation itself rather than the action of holding the phone is the most distracting element in the equation. Drivers must be taught to focus directly on the road rather than being provided a dubious security blanket in the form of technological advances.

A motor vehicle collision caused by a distracted driver can result in severe injuries with life-long consequences. From brain trauma and spinal cord damage to crush injuries and amputations, vehicle occupants could face multiple surgeries, lengthy hospital stays and extended physical therapy. Do not hesitate to secure your financial future by seeking monetary compensation for your injuries.

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