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Study Shows Hands-Free Devices Cause Distracted Driving

distracted drivingPreviously in Connecticut, drivers had exceptions to holding their cellphones while driving but in January of this year, those exceptions were taken away. Restrictions on cellphone usage is not new. Lawmakers have acknowledged the dangers of texting or making phone calls while operating a vehicle as it takes drivers’ hands off the wheel and takes their attention off the road. However, hands-free usage has remained legal.

Increased technology has made the issue worse. The actions of snapping photographs, sending text messages, using the GPS applications on smartphones, recording videos and even asking Siri a question causes distraction in drivers. A study came out around the time these laws changed in Connecticut that was released by the Queensland University of Technology in Australia that gave greater insight into distracted driving due to mobile devices for lawmakers.

The Study

The study conducted by QUT and released in December 2016 has found hands-free devices are just as dangerous as using a hand-held phone. The findings show drivers participating in both actions have a one second longer reaction to hazards on the road. The researchers involved in the study concluded it is too early to start making legal decisions based on the findings but also noted the statistics found during the study are staggering.

In one part of the study, drivers were put in a virtual road network. During the simulation, a pedestrian entered their peripheral view and crossed the street using a crosswalk. When the drivers were using a mobile device, they took a full second longer to react. While this doesn’t sound like a large amount of time, the extra distance traveled is more concerning. If the driver was traveling 25 mph, they would have traveled an additional 35 feet or so during the second it took to notice the pedestrian. This distance could lead to tragedy under certain circumstances.

Further, the study found less experienced drivers were twice as impaired by these devices in terms of distraction. This means it takes two seconds for an inexperienced driver to notice a pedestrian, meaning 70 additional feet were traveled. Considering the focus on young drivers using their devices for Snapchat and text messages, the statistics shown in this study are concerning. More testing and showing effects of different conversation types on the phone, such as texting or using applications, will be needed before researchers at QUT will recommend legal changes.

If you have been in a car accident due to someone using their mobile device or other distracted driving, contact us today for a free consultation on your case.


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