Does Hands-Free Technology Improve Safety?

In such an ever-moving culture, people want to multitask as much as possible. With GPS and Bluetooth capabilities in many vehicles on the market today, it’s easy to get directions to the grocery or to call your mother while you’re driving. While everyone knows it’s dangerous to text while driving (texting while driving is more likely to cause a crash than drunk driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), are hands-free devices the answer?

In recent years, car manufacturers have marketed hands-free devices as a safe alternative to handheld cell phones and other technology, but what does the research say? A Las Vegas accident attorney set out to find the answers!

What is Distracted Driving?

Not only do people use their time behind the wheel to call old friends and get directions, there are many activities drivers do that could constitute “distracted driving,” such as:

  • Eating
  • Drinking
  • Talking to passengers
  • Grooming
  • Changing the radio
  • Watching a video
  • Playing a game on their phone

Driving has become completely ubiquitous in America, it’s commonality making us forget just how much goes into it. Driving requires visual, auditory, and mental concentration. You are in control of a 4,000 pound vehicle traveling faster than any human can on a daily basis. When this power is taken for granted, it’s not surprise so many car collisions happen every day in America.

Distracted driving has a lot to do with the frequency of car crashes. According to the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles, almost 500,000 injuries were caused by drivers not paying attention to the road in 2009 alone. The Nevada DMV found that the percentage of distracted drivers is on the rise, from 10% of drivers involved in a crash in 2006 to 16% in 2009. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that 77% of cell phone owners reported talking on the phone while driving in a 2009 national survey. If you or someone you know had been in a collision due to distracted driving, make sure to reach out to a Las Vegas distracted driving attorney immediately.

Are Hands- Free Calls Safer?

Many people try to multitask behind the wheel. A developing body of evidence suggests that using hands-free devices, such as ear pieces and Bluetooth, is just as dangerous as talking on a cell phone using your hands. Researchers at the University of Utah measured the levels of distraction generated during a variety of tasks while trying to drive a car. Some activities include listening to the radio or a book on tape had the least interference on driving. The most distracting tasks were mathematical and verbal recall tasks. Using a hands-free cellular device to chat was determined to be more distracting than talking to a passenger and slightly less distracting than holding the phone up to your ear.

The National Safety Council reviewed over 30 research studies investigating the effect of communicating while driving. Paying attention to a conversation alone results in many driving impairments, according to their research. These impairments include inattention blindness, which is when a person visually perceives something that’s going on but it doesn’t actually “click,” slowed reaction times, and lane drifting. Overall, the National Safety Council states there is no difference between using a handheld and a hands-free device. The similarity in risk may be due to an increased sense of security using a hands-free device. Since you don’t feel or think you should be as impaired as if you were actually holding a phone, you will behave as if you aren’t impaired, meaning you aren’t behaving as carefully as you probably should. There are a lot of nuances as it pertains to impairment so it’s best to consult with an attorney depending on your situation.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has also conducted research on the matter. They investigated not only the likelihood of being involved in a car accident of any kind, but how the use of handheld and hands-free devices correlate with accidents that actually result in injury. Though you would think hands-free devices are safer as you don’t have to take your eyes off the road as much, the study concluded that both phone types increase the risk of being injured in a car crash. The increased risk isn’t minor, either. There was an overall increase of 400% in likeliness of a crash involving an injury occurring when drivers were using cell phones.

Nevada Distracted Driving Laws

The law in Nevada bans people from texting, accessing the internet, or using a handheld cell phone while driving. While there is no law against using hands-free devices, drivers should be extremely wary of becoming distracted while driving. And if you have been in an accident due to a distracted driver, seek legal advice from an attorney. GPS devices can increase safety by speaking aloud and giving the driver advance information on maneuvers, but be sure to program in your destination before you start driving. Most conversations can wait.

Try to carve out time to make your phone call before you drive or after you park. Making it a part of the process without combining two important tasks can increase your safety and the quality of your call. Not only does the call distract your driving, your driving distracts your call. People can tell when you aren’t fully invested in the conversation, though it isn’t as dangerous as being distracted while you drive!

Harris & Harris Injury Lawyers Can Help

The Las Vegas personal injury lawyers at Harris & Harris Injury Lawyers have been recognized by a variety of associations for our knowledge, expertise and professionalism in personal injury law. We know what it takes to have a successful case and are determined to get the best results. Give us a call at (702) 384-1414 or contact us online.