Hands free cellular devices not as safe as otherwise thought

Drivers who use hands free cellphones as a safe alternative to talking on hand-held cellphones are still be in danger of getting into a car accident.

There is no question that using a cellphone while driving can have devastating consequences. Statistics reported by Distraction.gov, the U.S. government's official website dedicated to distracted driving, showed that 3,154 people were killed and 424,000 people were injured in distracted driving accidents nationwide in 2013. In order to decrease the number of motor vehicle accidents, injuries and deaths involving distracted drivers, Georgia made it illegal for drivers to text while behind the wheel. Bus drivers and novice drivers are also prohibited from talking on any type of cellular device. Some people are wondering whether these laws are strong enough to stop distracted drivers from creating chaos on the roads.

Why are cellphones dangerous?

Although there are many different distractive activities a driver can engage in while behind the wheel, talking or texting on a cellphone may be one of the most deadly. These tasks involve three different types of distractions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Not only are drivers required to remove their eyes from the road to dial a phone number or compose a text, but they also need to take their hands off of the steering wheel to complete the task. The driver is no longer solely concentrating on driving, but is cognitively distracted while maintaining a conversation on the phone. Drivers who use cellphones are manually, visually and cognitively distracted, and are more likely to cause a serious motor vehicle accident.

A safe alternative?

Hands free cellphones were designed to minimize driver distraction while allowing people to talk on the phone. These voice-automated devices enable drivers to keep their eyes on the road and hands on the steering wheel. However, they still divert the driver's focus off of driving. Research conducted by the National Safety Council found that hands free cellphones are dangerous to use while driving, despite indications that they are a safe alternative to hand-held cellphones. Drivers who use hands free devices are less likely to respond to stimuli in their field-of-vision.

Some drivers may experience inattention blindness, which occurs when motorists are looking ahead, but fail to see up to 50 percent of their driving environment. This failure to see happens when the brain attempts to complete two complex tasks simultaneously. Rather than focus on both tasks at the same time, the brain switches back and forth from one task to the other. In fact, there are moments in time where motorists are not concentrating on driving at all. This decreases their ability to respond to critical hazards, such as objects in the road, bad weather conditions, pedestrian crosswalks and other drivers.

When to seek legal assistance

When drivers choose to talk or text on a cellphone while behind the wheel, their negligent actions can cause damage to others. If you have been injured in an accident caused by a distracted driver, you may want to seek the assistance of an injury attorney in Georgia. A lawyer can discuss the details of your case and may be able to help you get compensation for your property damage, medical expenses, lost wages from work and emotional trauma.

Keywords: texting, distracted, driving, accident, injury