Talking hands-free while driving may be better than using a hand-held device, but it is not risk-free by any means. Telephone conversations can be deadly distractions for drivers, whether or not those drivers are using their hands.
To avoid distracted driving, it is necessary to be not just hands-free but entirely phone-free, as stated by the National Safety Council (NSC).
What Are the Different Types of Driver Distraction?
The three main types of driver distraction are visual, manual, and cognitive, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). To drive safely, you must keep your eyes on the road, your hands on the wheel, and your mind on your driving. Texting is a particularly alarming form of driver distraction, as it requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention. Talking via a hands-free device may allow you to keep your hands on the wheel, but it still takes your attention away from operating the motor vehicle. And your focus may be the most important factor of all.
What Hands-Free Devices Are Available?
When the dangers of using a hand-held cell phone while driving became widely known, technology companies responded with hands-free devices that made it possible for drivers to talk while keeping their hands on the wheel. Many of these new devices use voice-to-text technology that allows you to respond to texts and emails without handling your cell phone. When you speak out loud, the app can convert speech to text and send a message. Examples of such devices include:
- Android Auto: This system allows you to connect your android phone and press a button on the steering wheel to activate Google Assistant. It gives you access to your messages, contacts, music, maps, etc., without touching your phone.
- Apple CarPlay: iPhone users can plug into this system to send and receive text messages, make calls, and perform other tasks. Verbal commands to Siri allow you access most system features. However, in some cases, drivers must use a touch screen display in the dashboard. This system will not read or allow the driver to respond verbally to emails.
Another well-known hands-free device is Bluetooth, a short-range, wireless, communication technology. Global Positioning System (GPS) is a navigation system using satellites that provides hands-free assistance in navigating to different locations.
Do Hands-Free Devices Reduce the Risk of Distracted Driving Accidents?
There is conflicting information on the benefits of hands-free devices. Researchers found that drivers who use these devices are less likely to crash than drivers who use hand-held devices, in a recent study published in Science Daily. On the other hand, NSC maintains that cell phone use is a deadly form of driver distraction, whether hand-held or hands-free. According to NSC, you cannot talk on the phone and read a book simultaneously, so why would you be able to safely talk and drive? If you are driving and looking out the windshield while talking on the phone, you may miss 50% of what is around you.
What Should You Do If You Are Hurt in a Distracted Driving Accident?
Despite public awareness, distracted drivers still cause accidents every day. If you are injured in a crash caused by a distracted driver, get medical attention for your injuries and contact an experienced lawyer as soon as possible. Call the Tenge Law Firm, LLC, at (303) 665-2929 to speak with a Boulder personal injury attorney who has a history of success in car accident cases. We also have offices in Denver and Fort Collins.