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How Safe is Hands-Free Technology While Driving?

Most drivers will agree that texting and driving, emailing and driving, and calling from their phones while driving are dangerous acts that take their attention away from the road. To try to avoid these distractions, many drivers utilize hands-free technology thinking that this is a safer alternative.

The truth is, even with hands-free technology, you are still driving distracted. There really is no safe way to use a phone while driving. Accidents caused by distracted driving can be devastating, and if you suspect the accident you were injured in was caused by a distracted driver, it’s important to discuss the details with your car accident attorney.

Hands-Free Isn’t Distraction-Free

Hands-free technology comes in many forms and provides a way for you to carry out activities on your phone to call, text, obtain directions, or anything else you may want to do while driving without having to physically pick up and handle your phone.

This can be carried out by a Bluetooth earpiece, a dashboard system such as Apple CarPlay, or just the speakerphone and microphone on your phone. In theory, you can dictate a text message or have one read to you, ask your phone to call a contact, and answer calls without taking your hands off the wheel. In reality, while the amount of “button pushing” may be less than simply speaking on your phone, there is still some attention you will need to give to the screen in question. It’s not as simple as just having a conversation.

Statistics on Hands-Free Distracted Driving

According to the National Safety Council, 24% of all car crashes involve cell phone conversations, hand-held or otherwise. When listening or speaking on the phone, your brain’s ability to process moving images decreases significantly, up to 33% according to the NSC. The NSC study also informs that even when the driver’s eyes stay on the road with both hands on the wheel, if they are talking on a hand-held device, they overlook 50% of what is around them.

Other studies likewise show that hands-free phone usage is still extremely unsafe while driving. A study at the University of Utah in 2006 made the surprising finding that adults who drive intoxicated are statistically less dangerous than drivers who hold a phone conversation while driving. That is not to say that driving intoxicated is safe. Quite the opposite. The import of the study is that texting while driving is that much more unsafe. Other studies have found similarly, and the TV show Mythbusters corroborated the results, finding that drunk drivers do better on a driving course than drivers on hands-free devices.

What About Talking to Others in the Car?

If talking to others in the car is considered safe, why isn’t using a hands-free device? Aren’t they the same? The National Safety Council concludes that this is not an apples-to-apples comparison. Passengers will also watch the road and warn drivers about dangers they may overlook. When you are multitasking, even if your hands are on the wheel, you are not 100% “present” in the car while driving. An in-person conversation, even if the passenger isn’t necessarily watching the road, will still keep the driver’s attention in the present situation.

Two young women in the car together smiling while having a conversation and driving

A Car Accident Caused by a Distracted Driver

To avoid being the cause of the accident, make sure that you are not using a phone, even hands-free, while driving. If you are in an accident with a driver who was using a device, whether it was hands-free or not, your car accident attorney can get you the compensation you are entitled to. It’s important to document as much as you can at the scene of the crash, if you are able, and let your attorney know you suspect phone usage was a factor in the cause. Your attorney will know how to proceed from there.

When you are driving, it’s important to have your eyes and mind on the road at all times. People who get behind the wheel and try to multitask are a hazard to others, and they should be held accountable if they cause an accident. If you’ve been injured in a car accident that wasn’t your fault and you’re struggling through financial hardships as a result, we want you to know that you deserve fair compensation. If the driver responsible for your crash was distracted in any way, even while using a hands-free device, there are circumstances that may apply to your claim. To speak with someone about your car accident, contact Arthur Law Firm (419) 782-9881 for a free consultation right away.