States and localities are increasingly outlawing the use of cell phones while driving unless those phones are not in hands-free mode. Many traffic accidents result from driver error, and distracted driving, including cell-phone use, is a significant contributor. According to the Centers for Disease Control, distracted driving comes in three categories:
- Visual, which involves taking your eyes off the road
- Manual, in which you take your hands off the wheel
- Cognitive, or some task that takes your mind off driving
Common tasks that result in distracted driving include sending text messages, talking on cell phones, using navigation systems, and eating while driving. The CDC considers sending a text to be the most distracting because it is visual, manual, and cognitive, resulting in maximum distraction.
Are Hands-Free Systems the Solution?
Research by the National Safety Council indicates that brain processing of moving images decreases by as much as one-third when drivers talk on the phone, and that drivers watching the road through the windshield can miss seeing as much as half of what happens on the road when they talk on any kind of cell phone, including hands-free ones.\
Other recent research indicates that hands-free systems might not be the answer. Partly in response to laws banning the use of hand-held cell phones while driving, most or all automobile manufacturers now offer hands-free systems as options. These systems can voice activate cell phones in the hand-free mode to talk or send texts, use GPS navigation systems and music systems, and perform other functions that previously required the use of hands.
The American Automobile Association (AAA) is not impressed with the safety “improvement” offered by these systems. Researchers for the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety tested the hands-free systems of most major car manufacturers to determine how much of a distraction the systems themselves create. They found that the systems all caused distractions that actually were worse than talking on hand-held cell phones and that high levels of mental distraction persisted for as long as 27 seconds after completing tasks with these systems. Even when using the least-distracting systems, drivers remained distracted for more than 15 seconds after completing tasks.
The AAA researchers ranked distractions on a five-point scale, with one being a mild distraction and five being the maximum. AAA defines a distraction rating of two or greater as potentially dangerous. Talking on hand-held cell phones is a level two distraction. All hands-free systems scored higher.
If You Were Injured in an Accident Involving Hands-Free
Technology in the Richmond area, Contact the Personal Injury Lawyers of Emroch & Kilduff While hands-free systems might comply with local laws, they are not necessarily safe. If you suffer an injury in an accident in the Richmond area where the other driver was using a hands-free system, you might be entitled to compensation. Use of such systems does not rule out negligence by the other driver. Consult an attorney with expertise in personal injury law to determine your rights.
The lawyers of Emroch & Kilduff specialize in personal injury law. They can protect your rights and obtain just compensation in these situations. Reach us at (804) 358-1568 or through our online contact form.