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Is It Safe to Use Hands-Free Devices While Driving?

Posted in Car Accidents on September 30, 2016

Driving requires your undivided attention. This means more than just keeping your eyes on the road: you must also keep your hands and your attention focused on driving. Cell phones are a regular part of everyday life for most adults, but life has become so fast-paced that some people have become accustomed to multitasking, even when they shouldn’t be dividing their attention. Hands-free cellular phone attachments allow a person to talk on a cell phone without using his or her hands, but are they really safe to use while driving?

Understanding Roadway Distraction

Distracted driving is very dangerous, though many argue that hands-free devices allow users to have a conversation while remaining in control of their vehicle. However, hands-free devices still take your mind off the road, and this can be just as dangerous as taking your hands off the steering wheel. When most people think of “distracted driving,” wandering eyes is typically the first thing that comes to mind. However, distraction comes in three forms:

  • Visual distractions are anything that causes your eyes to wander away from the road ahead. Rubber-necking to look at an accident, checking your phone, or turning around to see a passenger in the back are all types of visual distractions.
  • Manual distractions are anything other than driving that requires the use of your hands. Although most people are accustomed to driving with one hand on the steering wheel (and manual transmission drivers need their right hand to operate the gearshift), it’s always safest to keep both hands on the wheel at all times.
  • Cognitive distractions take your mind off the task of driving. Cognitive distractions may include daydreaming, emotional turbulence, worrying about the day ahead, or other things that may take your mind off driving.

It may surprise you to learn that wandering thoughts is the leading cause of distracted driving fatalities, responsible for 62% of fatal collisions. General cell phone use is the second most common cause at 12%. While hands-free cell phone accessories may seem like the perfect way to use a cell phone safely behind the wheel, statistics indicate there really is no safe way to use cell phones while driving.

Why Hands-Free Isn’t Enough

Hands-free devices are fantastic if you have an important phone call while your hands are occupied. However, these devices still require you to either tap your cell phone or a button on the earpiece to answer and end calls. Even though this might only be a second or two, it still requires you to take your hand off the wheel.

When you use a hands-free device, it’s still a major distraction even though it allows you to keep your hands on the wheel. A stressful family call or a major work-related conversation can draw your attention away from the road, creating a dangerous hazard for the other motorists around you.

Know the Law

Many states have banned the use of cell phones in any way while driving due to the increased number of related fatal collisions. The old adage rings true for hands-free devices: it’s better to be safe than sorry. Distracted driving can cause serious property damage, fatal injuries, or permanent disabilities in victims of crashes.

If you’ve been injured in a traffic collision where the other driver was using a cell phone, whether with a hands-free attachment or not, the law is on your side. Don’t pay for the damage caused by a negligent, distracted driver. Reach out to an experienced car crash attorney to discuss your options. If a distracted driver killed a loved one, you may be able to pursue a wrongful death claim.