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All Press Releases for January 03, 2014 »
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Distraction study: Hands-free and hand-held devices hold high risk

When someone is driving down the road at 55 miles per hour and looks down at their phone, it is generally for about 4.6 seconds.
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    January 03, 2014 /24-7PressRelease/ -- It is not uncommon for people driving around Greenville to be engaged in behavior that takes their attention off of the task of driving. South Carolina has not yet passed any substantial laws relating to texting and driving, unlike other states. According to the South Carolina Department of Public Safety, inattention or distraction was found to be a contributing factor in over 10,000 car accidents during 2007.

The facts about distraction reports that in 2012, 421,000 people were injured in accidents involving distractive behavior and over 3,300 people died. While many people think of cellphones when they hear the word, distraction, there are actually many different types of distraction that exist. These distractions include reading maps, playing with dash controls, putting on makeup, eating and using a phone.

One report cited by showed that every month in 2012, there were over 171 billion text messages sent in Guam, U.S. territories, Puerto Rico and American states. When someone is driving down the road at 55 miles per hour and looks down at their phone, it is generally for about 4.6 seconds. That may not seem like a lot of time, but at the end of those seconds, the car will have driven a football field's length - with no one looking.

Studying cognitive distraction

Earlier this year, the American Automobile Association's Foundation for Traffic Safety released the results of a new study centered on cognitive distraction. The study involved over 150 participants and according to USA Today, confirmed the findings from a smaller study conducted in Texas.

Researchers conducted experiments in an instrumented vehicle, a lab and a driving simulator. The experiments involved the following:
- Talking to a passenger.
- Using a hand-held cellphone.
- Listening to an audio book.
- Using a hands-free phone.
- Using a voice-to-text technology.
- Listening to the radio.

In addition, participants were also asked to focus entirely on driving. Cameras, sensors and other equipment recorded brain waves and physical behaviors of the participants and this data was then examined by researchers.

Distraction and hands-free devices

One of the many findings of the study was the fact that hands-free devices, such as the voice-to-text technology and hands-free phones, were just as distracting cognitively as using a hand-held cellphone. Data collected from the study indicated that drivers missed visual cues, were not as quick to put their foot on the brake and visually scanned their driving environment less frequently. The area of the brain that is used for driving safely also showed decreased brain activity that was greater when participants were involved in more complicated tasks.

When a distracted driver causes an accident, people can be seriously injured, leaving them unable to work or struggling with a lifelong disability. They should meet with an experienced attorney to make sure that their legal rights are protected.

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