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Are Hands-Free Devices Really Safe? New Study Shows Hands-Free Devices Impair Driver Concentration

Everyone knows that hands-on texting or talking on a cell phone while driving can cause accidents on the roadways.  But are drivers also distracted while using hands-free devices?  The dedicated injury attorneys at  The Rothenberg Law Firm LLP want to alert consumers to a recent AAA study on cognitive distractions while driving.  The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety conducted this landmark study of distracted driving in order to take a closer look at what leads to auto accident negligence and dangerous car crashes.  The findings in theJune 2013, AAA report[1]  suggest that drivers need to better educate themselves about distractions.

The study, “Measuring Cognitive Distraction in the Automobile,” analyzed drivers’ brain activity while assessing various indicators of driving performance.  Taking a deeper look into the mind of the motor vehicle operator, the study “highlights the mental distractions caused by a variety of tasks that may be performed behind the wheel.”  Most notably, a hands-free cell phone is a significant distraction that can lead to serious accidents.

The Rothenberg Law Firm LLP’s attorneys emphasize the fact that “thousands of people are killed and millions are injured in motor vehicle crashes annually” – with negligent driving as the number one cause of motor vehicle accidents. What exactly is negligent driving?  It refers to a situation in which the driver who caused the accident did not exercise reasonable care under the circumstances.  Distracted driving is one form of negligent driving.

What can the new study teach us about distracted driving?  It contains a rating scale of driver distractions, showing the cognitive burden that various kinds of activities place on drivers.  In short, the rating system shows how different mental burdens reduce a driver’s resources for focusing on the road. 

Most significantly – the study shows that “hands-free doesn’t mean risk free.”

And what leads a driver to become cognitively distracted?  A majority of drivers think hands-free cell phone use is acceptable. In fact, speech-based in-vehicle technologies continue to gain popularity in cars across the country.  But the AAA report proves that one must take a closer look at the safety concerns surrounding our use of these devices on the road.  The study identified three main sources of driver distraction, which include visual distractions (eyes off the road), manual (hands off the wheel), and cognitive (mind off the task).  While most drivers tend to associate distracted driving with visual and manual distractions, the study saliently shows that even when hands are on the wheel and eyes appear to be on the road, a driver can experience significant cognitive distractions.  And when a driver experiences cognitive distraction, accidents occur.

While the AAA report showed that drivers faced some cognitive distraction from listening to the radio or to books on tape, hands-free cell phone use proved among the highest dangers.  Notably, hand-held cell phone use was only slightly more distracting than hands-free cell phone use, and speech-to-text systems proved more cognitively distracting than both hand-held and hands-free talking.  This important study of cognitive distraction makes perfectly clear that hands-free cell phone use – whether it’s for talking or texting, leads to serious distractions and roadway dangers.

Given that distracted driving leads to more than 3,000 fatalities each year, it is important that drivers are aware of the fact that just because their hands are on the wheel and their eyes are on the road, they may still become distracted when using a hands-free device while driving.  The Rothenberg Law Firm LLP encourages all drivers to read and internalize the AAA study and exercise extreme caution when using hands-free devices while driving.  The firm’s experienced personal injury attorneys work hard to make sure that distracted drivers are held accountable for their auto accident negligence.

If you or a loved one have been injured by a distracted driver, it is important to have an experienced advocate on your side.  Statutes of limitations affect the amount of time you have to file a claim, so it is vital to speak to an injury lawyer as soon as possible.  The car accident attorneys at The Rothenberg Law Firm LLP have significant experience dealing with auto accidents caused by distracted driving.  An injury attorney at The Rothenberg Law Firm LLP can advocate for you to ensure you get the compensation you deserve.  For over forty years, they have been successfully litigating personal injury cases and have recovered hundreds of millions of dollars on behalf of thousands of clients. The firm has offices across the tri-state area in New York, NY, Philadelphia, PA, Cherry Hill, NJ, Hackensack, NJ, and Lakewood, NJ.  The Rothenberg Law Firm LLP can be reached toll-free by telephone at 1-800-624-8888 or by filling out a free online case evaluation form.  With The Rothenberg Law Firm LLP, your initial consultation is always free, and the firm only collects a fee if they are able to recover for you.

[1] Measuring Cognitive Distraction in the Automobile,” AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety Report, June 2013, https://www.aaafoundation.org/measuring-cognitive-distractions.

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