Use of voice-operated devices while driving no safer than use of cell phones

There is no doubt that cell phones have changed the way that most people stay in touch with loved ones and keep on top of business matters. Though these devices offer many advantages, they have also contributed greatly to the emergence of a major threat on our nation's highways: distracted driving. Indeed, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2010, 3,092 people were killed and an additional 419,000 people were injured in motor vehicle accidents involving distracted drivers.

Although texting while driving receives a great deal of attention as a cause of car accidents, the reality is that simply talking on a cell phone while behind the wheel poses significant risk. Researchers at the University of Utah discovered that people talking on their cell phones while driving had slower brake time reactions and were more likely to get into an accident that when they were not using their cell phones. The performance of drivers using their cell phones while driving was remarkably similar to those who got behind the wheel with a .08 blood alcohol content. The key with cell phone use was not only that drivers had removed their hands from the wheel and their eyes from the road, but also that their cognitive attention was not focused on the primary act of driving.

In part to address these issues, phone manufacturers and automakers alike developed voice-operated, hands-free devices that allow drivers to talk and text without ever removing their hands from the wheel. Though these devices seem like they would offer a safety benefit, research indicates that this is not the case.

Researchers at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute evaluated the performance of a group of drivers on a closed course. Half of the drivers used their cell phones to talk and text, while the remaining half used hands-free devices to perform the same tasks. Researchers discovered that drivers using hands-free devices did just as poorly on the course as those using their cell phones. While the voice-operated systems allowed drivers to keep their hands on the wheel, they did nothing to address the significant cognitive impairment caused by speaking on the phone.

A personal injury attorney can help

If the negligence of a distracted driver has caused you or someone you love to suffer serious injury in a motor vehicle accident, contact a knowledgeable personal injury attorney. A lawyer experienced in handling car accident claims can assess your case and help you get the compensation you deserve for medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering. For more information about what a personal injury attorney can do for you, contact a lawyer today.