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New study shows risks associated with hands-free devices and driving

Distracted driving causes thousands of accidents and injuries every year.
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    January 01, 2014 /24-7PressRelease/ -- New study shows risks associated with hands-free devices and driving

Since the state of Washington banned the use of hand-held cell phones, many drivers in King County have switched over to hands-free phones. Manufacturers have even added new technology to their vehicles that is voice activated. This technology is marketed as being safer than hand-held devices, thereby reducing driver distraction and lowering the chances of a car accident taking place. However, a new study disputes that claim.

Measuring cognitive distraction

Earlier this year, the American Automobile Association's Foundation for Traffic Safety released the findings of a study it conducted on cognitive distraction. USA Today calls it "the most comprehensive study of its kind." The purpose of the study was to measure mental distraction and look at how different types of distractions affect drivers. In order to gather this data, over 150 participants were tested in a lab, a driving simulator and an instrumented vehicle. They were asked to perform the following tasks:
-Talk with a passenger.
-Listen to an audio book.
-Use a voice-to-text technology.
-Listen to the radio.
-Use a hand-held cell phone.
-Talk on a hands-free cell phone.

Researchers hooked the participants up with sensors to record their brain waves and then used cameras to capture their behavior. Before the participants performed the tasks, they were studied while performing the solo task of driving. This provided the researchers with a base number to start with.

Hands-free technology just as risky

One of the findings of the survey showed that the more complicated a task was, the higher the level of cognitive distraction for the driver. This included voice-to-text technology and hands-free cell phones, indicating that these safer methods are not as risk-free as thought. The data collected in the study revealed that drivers scanned the road environment around them less frequently, missed visual cues and were slower to hit their brakes in a potentially dangerous situation.

The researchers are using the study's results to ask the technology industry and auto manufacturers to hold off on incorporating any more hands-free technology and instead, study the issue further. However, the Consumer Electronics Association stated that the study results should not be believed, as the methods used were not wholly reliable.

Distraction can lead to serious injury

In 2011, there were 5,435 serious and minor car accident injuries attributed to some form of distractive driving according to the Washington State Department of Transportation. These distractions included smoking, eating/drinking, using a hands-free wireless telecommunication device, using a hand-held telecommunications device and adjusting an audio or entertainment system.

Some injuries that are common in auto accidents involve the neck and back. These kinds of injuries can put someone in the hospital and on home care for some time, leading to unexpected challenges. In many cases, victims suffering from these kinds of problems may have to undergo surgery or even be facing a lifetime of permanent pain. In addition, victims often find themselves struggling financially with medical bills and loss of income and may feel overwhelmed. Before they do anything, they should meet with an experienced attorney to discuss their case and look at their options.

Article provided by Law Offices of Elizabeth Quick, PLLC
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