Many drivers think hands-free devices will keep them safer and prevent an auto accident. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. Talking on the phone and using hands-free devices can be just as dangerous, if not more dangerous, as texting and driving.
Busting the Myth
Discovery Channel’s “Mythbusters” set out to prove whether or not using a hands-free device is safer than using a handset. Previously, the show’s research demonstrated that drivers perform worse when talking hands-free on a cell phone than when driving drunk.
In a study that put 30 participants through a driving test simulation, the “Mythbusters” team found that drivers talking hands-free performed no better than drivers using a handset. Only two drivers passed the simulation. Translate this scenario into reality, and the remaining 28 drivers would be in serious need of an auto accident lawyer.
Studies conducted at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City backs up the “Mythbusters” findings. That research showed that Salt Lake City drivers talking on cell phones made more mistakes than other drivers – running a red light, braking late and having an auto accident – regardless of whether they were holding the phone or talking hands-free. The findings out of Salt Lake City also suggest that some hands-free devices and technologies are more distracting than holding the phone.
Why Hands-Free Isn’t Safer
Your auto accident lawyer will tell you that it all comes back to the way our brain works. The human brain can jump quickly between two tasks, but it can’t think of two things at the same time.
When you are talking or using a hands-free device while driving, the section of the brain that processes moving images reduces in capability by up to one third. The National Safety Council reports that a driver could miss seeing up to 50 percent of his or her surroundings even though the driver’s eyes are looking at the road.
Many states around the country have instituted hands-free laws to protect drivers from the dangers of an auto accident. However, if you take time to chat with your local lawyer, you might learn that these laws have had very little effect on the number of auto accident claims made due to distracted driving. A 2010 analysis by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that in some states accident claims rose after hands-free laws took effect.
Drivers in Salt Lake City and the rest of the state of Utah are allowed to use hands-free technology that is physically or electronically linked to their vehicle. Any other use of a hand-held device while driving could leave drivers in need of a lawyer and a hefty advance on their paycheck.