Study shows hands-free cellphones not safest option

Studies show hands-free cellphones may not be a safe alternative to using a hand-held cellphone while driving.

Distracted driving is a major problem in Oregon and across the United States. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 391,000 people were injured and 3,477 people were killed as a result of distracted driving car accidents in 2015 alone. In an attempt to minimize the number of people who are injured and killed in these preventable collisions, many states, including Oregon, have issued legislation banning the use of hand-held cellphones while behind the wheel. In order to stay in compliance with the law, a number of motorists use hands-free cellphones. However, studies show that even hands-free cellphones are still significantly dangerous to motorists and everyone on the road.

Study details

A study, published by AAA, had participants drive a simulator vehicle, as well as a vehicle equipped with monitoring devices while engaging in several types of distractive activities. Researchers wanted to measure the amount of cognitive distraction that motorists experienced while participating in these activities. In addition to talking on a hand-held cellphone while driving, study participants were asked to do certain activities including the following:

· Maintain a conversation using a hands-free device.

· Speak with a passenger in the vehicle.

· Listen to the radio.

· Listen to an audio book.

· Compose an email using a voice-activated device.

As motorists were engaged in the activities and driving, researchers monitored their blood pressure, brain activity, response time and eye movement to measure the amount of cognitive distraction they experienced.

The results

The study showed that while using a hand-held cellphone was still somewhat more distracting than operating a hands-free device, the hands-free cellphone still created a substantial amount of cognitive distraction. The least distracting activity was listening to the radio, while the most distracting was using the voice-activated device. These findings spurred further research into problems stemming from voice-activated technology.

What is cognitive distraction?

Although hands-free cellphones take away any manual or visual distractions that may occur, they still involve a significant amount of concentration. This takes the driver's focus off the road, even for a short time, which can cause a motor vehicle accident. The National Safety Council reports that the human brain cannot engage in two complex tasks simultaneously. The brain rather shifts between one task and the other, leaving times when the driver is not focused on the road at all.

What to do in the midst of an accident?

Car accidents can be extremely chaotic, especially if there are injuries involved. If you have been involved in an accident caused by a negligent driver, you may want to speak to a personal injury attorney in Oregon regarding your legal options. You may be entitled to compensation for your medical expenses, damaged property, wages lost from time taken off work and emotional distress.