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Do Hands-Free Devices Still Cause Car Accidents?

March 2, 2022

Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers at the Nerenberg Law Associates, P.C. Help Those Injured by Distracted and Negligent Drivers.

Holding a phone conversation on a hand-held device while driving is illegal in two dozen states and the District of Colombia. Another 21 states ban texting while driving. This might lead you to believe that holding a device in your hand, preventing you from keeping both hands on the wheel and both eyes on the road, is what makes the use of these devices dangerous and can lead to a car accident. However, studies have shown that cognitive distraction is at the heart of the problem, whether the device is hand-held or hands-free.

In fact, the National Transportation Safety Board has recommended that states ban all cell phone use while driving, including supposedly responsible practices that utilize hands-free technology. A report by the National Safety Council expressed concern that bans on hand-held phones seem to make people believe that hands-free phones are harmless. The report discussed research using driving simulators that showed drivers on hands-free calls were less observant of their surroundings; they looked less at their mirrors, dashboard, and traffic signals than drivers who were not using phones. The phone users also took longer to engage the brake when necessary.

Our society prizes the ability to multitask. Our busy schedules seem to necessitate doing more than one thing a time. For many people, this view translates into a justification for taking advantage of the so-called quiet time of driving to get something done. This is a dangerous approach.

Distracted driving kills thousands of people every year. In 2018 alone, there were more than 400,000 people injured in motor vehicle accidents that involved driver distraction.

To many, it seems intuitive that devices that allow you to keep your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road must make driving safer, at least compared with making a call that requires you to hold a phone or sending a text that demands that you to look away from the road to view a screen. But this mode of thinking quickly leads to the assumption that a hands-free phone call is no more problematic than a conversation with a passenger.

This is simply not true.

A study out of the University of Sussex in England showed that a conversation with a passenger had the advantage of a shared physical experience that caused passengers to react to road hazards of which a person on the other end of the line is not aware. In other words, a passenger will notice obstacles and situations that may interfere with the driver’s focus, and appropriately adjust the conversation accordingly. This shared experience and incorporation of the same visual input allowed the conversation to be significantly safer because it was less cognitively taxing for the driver. 

Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers at the Nerenberg Law Associates, P.C. Help Those Injured by Distracted and Negligent Drivers

If you were permanently or severely injured or lost a loved one in a car accident because of a distracted driver, you should be able to collect compensation from the person responsible for the collision. The Philadelphia car accident lawyers at Nerenberg Law Associates, P.C. can help you prove the negligence that caused your injuries and see that you recover the damages you need to cover your losses. Call us today at 215-569-9100 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.