Do You Think Talking or Texting on a Hands-Free Device While You Drive Is Safe? Think Again

Distracted driving involves performing some other task—eating, texting, talking, or fiddling with the radio—that diverts the driver’s attention from the main task of driving.  Distracted driving is a big problem in Rockford and throughout United States. In 2012, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 3,328 people died in crashes involving a distracted driver, and 421,000 more people were hurt in distracted-driving accidents.

While many people know that texting on a hand-held smartphone while they drive is dangerous, many are surprised to hear that a hands-free device can be just as deadly. In June 2013, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released results of a study that showed talking on a hand-held phone is only a little more distracting than talking on a hands-free device—both have a moderate risk of causing a crash. However, voice-to-text applications are much more distracting—deemed an extensive risk for causing a crash.

The study showed that significant mental distractions exist even when a driver keeps his hands on the wheel and his eyes looking straight ahead. This mental distraction compromises brain function, increasing reaction time and reducing driver focus.

Another recent study, conducted by Texas A&M Transportation Institute and published in April 2013, found that reaction times doubled for drivers, whether they were texting on a hand-held device or dictating using a voice-to-text application.

Illinois is one of a growing number of states that bans the use of a handheld device while driving. However, hands-free devices are allowed—even though research shows they pose similar risks.

In the past, automakers have integrated smartphones with specific makes and models of their cars. Now, it appears that both Apple and Google are jumping on the hands-free bandwagon with both feet. In January 2014, Google announced the Open Automotive Alliance, a plan to work with automakers to integrate cars and Android devices. In March 2014, Apple unveiled the new “CarPlay” system, a similar initiative that integrates cars with the iPhone.

At The Fisk & Monteleone Law Firm, we are concerned that this new, in-car technology will increase the number of serious car, truck, and motorcycle accidents. Do you have an opinion? Tell us what you think in the comment section below.