Hands-Free May Be More Dangerous and Distracting Than Handheld Devices

There has been a lot of focus on the dangers of using handheld mobile devices when driving, which can increase risk of a car accident. Many states, including New York, have passed laws that prohibit the use of them. However, a recent AAA study conducted by University of Utah researchers suggests that hands-free may be even more dangerous and distracting.

Hands-free allows users to: 

  • make calls;
  • send emails;
  • text messages; and
  • post on Facebook without pushing more than one button.

Not only is this available for separate purchase but many car manufacturers are including this capability in dashboards.

One of the concerns is that it takes greater effort and focus to ensure the translation from speech to text is correct.

In fact, it was found to be even more distracting than: 

  • listening to music;
  • talking on a phone; and
  • chatting with passengers. 

It was previously found by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute that taking one’s eyes off the road for just 4.6 seconds while sending or receiving a text message is the same as driving blindfolded at 55 miles per hour the entire length of a football field. It appears that this isn’t the only form of inattention. In other words, drivers can have their eyes on the road and still be distracted.

Researchers refer to this as inattention blindness or tunnel vision. Although they may be looking straight ahead, the distraction of using hands-free devices may distract them from looking through their rearview and side mirrors. Therefore, it could cause them to miss hazards such as a pedestrian crossing the street or a stop sign just ahead.

Now AAA would like to see limited use of voice-driven technology, including in the design of newer vehicles. Handheld or not, clearly there are significant issues with distractions of any type when behind the wheel.

Contact a lawyer at Gacovino, Lake & Associates to learn how distracted driving might have been a contributing factor in an accident.

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