Over the past decade, distracted driving — particularly texting while driving — has become a significant threat on our nation's roadways. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 3,092 people died and an additional 419,000 were injured in motor vehicle accidents involving a distracted driver in 2010, the last year for which statistics are available. Overall, accidents involving distracted drivers accounted for approximately 18 percent of all car accidents in that year.
Due to the significance of the threat posed by distracted driving, legislatures across the country passed laws prohibiting the handheld use of cellphones while driving. In most states, however, it is still legal to use a hands-free device to speak and even text with others. Some automakers and phone manufacturers have begun touting the use of such hands-free devices as a safe, responsible alternative to the handheld use of cellphones while behind the wheel. After all, these devices do not require drivers to remove their eyes from the road or their hands from the wheel.
Hands-Free Devices Offer No Real Safety Benefit
Though the assertion that hands-free devices are safe seems to make sense, research indicates that the use of these devices is no safer than texting while driving. Recently, researchers at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute evaluated the skills of a group of drivers on a closed course. Half the drivers received and sent text messages using their cellphones while the other half received and sent text messages using hands-free devices.
Those drivers who used their cellphones during the test performed as expected: poorly. The surprise, however, was that the drivers using hands-free devices did no better. Although hands-free devices do not require the use of a driver's hands or eyes, the act of composing an email or text requires a substantial amount of cognitive attention. So much so that coming up with a simple message — even as simple as "I'm running late" or "I'm stuck in traffic" — was enough to negatively affect a driver's ability to control his or her vehicle.
Contact A Personal Injury Attorney
If you or someone you love has been injured in a motor vehicle accident due to the negligence of a distracted driver, contact an experienced personal injury attorney. A knowledgeable personal injury lawyer can assess your case and help you get the fair and adequate compensation you deserve for medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering. For more information about what a personal injury attorney can do for you, contact a lawyer today.