"Hands-free" is not "risk-free"

July 25, 2016 — by Sean Lohman
Tags: Distracted Driving

These days you don't have to touch your phone to send a message.  Thanks to hands-free technology in phones and in vehicles, drivers can send and receive texts without ever touching a device.  But is it safe?

According to a recent study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, hands-free systems and safety features may prevent the driver from taking their eyes off the road and their hands off the wheel, but research revealed that using voice commands to send texts and change music created a mental distraction that lasted almost 30 seconds after the task was completed.  

"The massive increase in voice-activated technologies in cars and phones represents a growing safety problem for drivers," said Marshall Doney, AAA's president and CEO in a recent interview.  "We are concerned that these new systems may invite driver distraction, as overwhelming scientific evidence concludes that hands-free is not risk-free."

In a press release, AAA says that researchers studied the residual effects on mental distraction while comparing new hands-free technologies in ten 2015 vehicles and three types of smartphones, and ranked the level of distraction on a scale of 1-5.  The analysis found that all systems studied increased mental distraction to potentially unsafe levels.  Not surprisingly, the systems that were found to be the least distracting performed with fewer errors, required less time on task, and were easiest to use.  

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet issued a publication which states that driver distraction is the leading factor in most crashes.  Nearly 80% of crashes and 65% of near-crashes involve some form of distraction within three seconds before the event.  In Kentucky in 2014, there were over 53,500 crashes resulting in over 14,000 injuries and 169 fatalities due to distracted driving!  Our team of lawyers has represented many individuals who have been severely injured and even killed by distracted drivers.

Remember...while using hands-free systems prevent drivers from taking their eyes off the road, a mental distraction is still taking place which can put people at risk.  If you or someone you know has been injured because of a distracted driver, please contact us with any questions.