in the sectionOur areas of practice

Are hands free cellular devices a safe alternative for drivers?

Many motorists use hands free cellphones in order to stay safe while driving; however, they are a major source of cognitive distraction.

Motorists in Pennsylvania and across the country can't seem to put their cellphones down while driving. Despite state and national campaigns warning motorists of the dangers associated with distracted driving, people continue to text and talk on cellphones while behind the wheel. According to Distraction.gov, 3,154 people were killed and 424,000 people were injured in distracted driving car accidents nationwide in 2013. Some states, including Pennsylvania have enacted laws prohibiting drivers from texting and driving in an attempt to lower the distracted driving fatality rate. Studies show, however, that using hand-held and hands free cellphones to talk while driving is extremely dangerous as well.

Types of distractions

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that there are three main types of driver distractions. These include:

  • Manual distractions: Tasks that require drivers to take their hands off of the steering wheel.
  • Visual distractions: Tasks that involve drivers removing their eyes from the road to look at something else.
  • Cognitive distractions: Activities that require drivers to remove their focus off of driving and concentrate on another task.

When people talk on hand-held cellphones while driving, they are manually, visually and cognitively distracted. In addition to taking their hands off of the wheel to dial a phone number, drivers must look at the cellphone and then maintain a conversation. Some motorists have started using hands free cellphones while driving because they feel as though they are safer to use than a hand-held device. Researchers have discovered that hands free devices are a significant source of cognitive distraction and may increase the likelihood of a serious car accident.

Inattention blindness

The National Safety Council published a report after carefully evaluating over 30 studies performed on cognitive distraction. Even though hands free devices eliminate any type of manual or visual distraction, they still distract the driver by limiting his or her ability to see what is going on up ahead. Otherwise known as inattention blindness, drivers who are engaged in a conversation on a cellular device are unable to see and process up to 50 percent of their driving environment. Furthermore, drivers are unable to respond to certain hazards, such as pedestrians, traffic signals, objects in the road, erratic drivers and traffic.

Dealing with a car accident

The moments following a serious car accident can be daunting. You and the passengers in your car may suffer from immediate injuries, such as broken bones, concussion, lacerations and torn muscles. Some injuries, including traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord damage, may take days, weeks and even months to show up.

It is important to speak with an established personal injury attorney who can review the details of your accident. A lawyer in Pennsylvania may be able to provide essential legal counsel regarding your case.