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Hands-free tech safer than texting while driving?

car accident texting while drivingThink hands-free, voice-activated tech eliminates driver distraction? Not so much.

It is universally known that driving while texting, using a cell phone, a GPS, or any other activity that takes your hands from the wheel and your eyes from the road is dangerous and can be fatal. Hands-free technology has been pitched to consumers as a safer alternative, allowing the user to complete tasks via voice commands while still keeping his/her hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. These types of voice-activated systems are available on most iOS, Android, and Microsoft smartphones and in many new car models.

But, a recent study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, a non profit safety research group, found that use of a hands free system could be just as distracting as the use of a handheld device. In fact, they found that a driver’s attention can be partially diverted for up to 27 seconds AFTER interacting with a hands-free system.

A variety of factors make this kind of technology distracting for drivers. Complicated or faulty systems can cause errors and require drivers to catch the error and make corrections while driving – for instance, when the device misinterprets a voice command and misses a digit while dialing a phone number, leaves words out of a talk-to-text, or enters the wrong address into a GPS. But even when the technology functions properly, the fact remains that the driver is still multi-tasking, and anything that  requires the driver to focus on something other than driving, or adds to a driver’s “cognitive workload” can lead to an accident. Even a task that diverts your attention for a few seconds can have lingering effects, as it can take 15-27 seconds to reorient yourself on the road in terms of speed, road signs, navigation, and where other vehicles are.

Naturally, the level of distraction varies between different systems, and better-functioning, more user-friendly systems can help lessen the  effects of multi-tasking when a driver feels that a certain task is necessary. On the whole, it is best to refrain from  adjusting a GPS system, making phone calls and texting while driving.  Set your GPS before you depart, and let texts wait until you arrive at your destination or find somewhere to stop.

If you have been involved in an accident with a distracted driver, contact our office to learn about your legal rights. We can be reached day or night at 855-866-5529.

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