Many states have passed laws against using your mobile phone while driving, but many of these laws make allowances for drivers to use hands-free devices while driving. There are many options available for drivers, including Bluetooth earpieces and built-in hands-free systems in cars, but are these systems any safer than traditional use?
Hands-Free vs. Distraction-Free
While hands-free devices leave you able to keep both hands on the steering wheel, they don’t leave your mind free to focus on the road ahead. Distracted driving causes thousands of accidents each year. Just because your hands are on the wheel and you are looking ahead doesn’t mean that you’re focused on the task at hand. If you are involved in a conversation while driving, you are distracted.
The Dangers of Multi-Tasking
While “I’m a great multi-tasker!” is something your boss wants to hear, you should never sacrifice your concentration behind the wheel. Each additional activity you perform while driving, including adjusting settings in your car, checking your GPS, or carrying on a conversation on the phone, puts you at a greater risk of an accident.
According to the National Safety Council (NSC), the area of your brain that processes moving images shows that activity decreases by a third when the driver is listening to sentences while driving. In addition to less processing power being devoted to that area of the brain, researchers have found that the field of vision for distracted drivers decreases by 50%. That’s a lot of space that you are no longer actively monitoring. Distracted drivers may also be less aware of what is happening next to and behind them, since they neglect to continually scan their rearview mirrors.
Many smartphones are used to keep on texts, emails, and other private messages. Many states also have sought to prevent drivers from typing messages while driving. In response, voice-to-text technology has grown in popularity, which allows users to “type” by dictating their message to the phone. With background noise, accents, and speech differences, these software tools aren’t always the most accurate.
The NSC also reported that using voice-to-text technology can be more distracting to drivers than typing texts by hand. In addition to these issues, the growing popularity of dashboard “infotainment” systems can also increase the risk of distraction. Many systems offer music, email, social media, navigation, and other services. While they may meet the hands-free requirements, they can also be a huge distraction.
Driving With a Passenger
While it might seem intuitive that it is just as dangerous to drive with a passenger as it is to talk on the phone while driving, this is far from the truth. Passengers have been found to be far less distracting for a number of reasons. A passenger serves as a second set of eyes and ears and can help the driver by pointing out hazards and handling navigation duties. Passengers also are present in the car, which allows them to recognize when traffic conditions are too challenging to carry on a conversation. Phone callers, however, don’t have this information and may keep the driver distracted.
Injured By a Distracted Driver? Call Our Charleston Car Accident Lawyers – (843) 968-0886
Distracted drivers are a hazard to everyone on the road, including themselves. Unfortunately, even the best drivers can be involved in an accident with a distracted driver. If you were injured in such an accident, you may be able to recover damages for your injuries and suffering. Since 1999, Pierce, Herns, Sloan & Wilson, LLC has been committed to being a voice for our injured clients. Let our experienced Charleston car accident attorneys guide you and assist you with your injury claim.
Discuss your case today by scheduling a free consultation. Call (843) 968-0886 or contact our firm online to learn more.