Study: Evaluating the safety of hands-free devices

Studies show that hands-free cellphones cause a significant amount of cognitive distraction, which could result in accidents.

Distracted drivers cause catastrophic accidents that injure and kill a number of people in Ohio and across the country every year. These preventable accidents are the result of drivers' inability to concentrate fully on the road, as they are preoccupied with talking, texting, composing emails, updating social media and taking selfies while behind the wheel. As a way to decrease the distracted driving fatality rate, many states have enacted legislation prohibiting drivers from using hand-held devices. Instead, motorists use hands-free cellphones as a way to eliminate visual and manual distractions as they navigate the busy roadways. Studies show, however, that even hands-free cellphones can be deadly, and are not as safe as some people may think.

Cognitive distraction study

A study published by AAA was aimed at measuring the amount of cognitive distraction that is caused by various driver distractions. During the study, researchers measured participants' brain activity, heart rate, response time and eye movement while they engaged in certain tasks. These tasks included talking on a hand-held cellphone, maintaining a conversation using a hands-free device, listening to the radio, following a book-on-tape, talking with a passenger in the vehicle and composing an email using voice activated technology. Although drivers may not think twice about handling these tasks while keeping focused on the road, evidence shows that the brain is unable to effectively complete two complex tasks simultaneously.

Looking at the results

Surprisingly, the results of the study showed that although the hands-free cellphone was somewhat less distracting than the hand-held model, the difference was not significant. The amount of cognitive distraction caused by hands-free cellphones kept drivers from completely focusing on the road, which could cause a tragic car accident. Listening to the radio was the least distracting and using voice-activated technology measured the highest amount of distraction to motorists.

What is cognitive distraction?

When drivers concentrate on a task other than driving, it is considered a cognitive distraction. For example, if a driver is talking on a hands-free cellphone and navigating through rush hour traffic, his or her mind is continuously bouncing back and forth between the conversation and the road, according to the National Safety Council. As a result, drivers are less likely to respond to hazardous situations, such as bad weather conditions, reckless drivers, objects in the road, pedestrians and traffic signals.

Obtaining legal counsel

If you have been injured in Ohio as a result of driver negligence, you may want to speak to a personal injury attorney regarding your legal rights. You may be entitled to compensation for your medical expenses, emotional trauma, lost wages from work and property damage.