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Distracted-Driving Watch: Hands-Free Devices no Safer in SoCal

December 31, 1969

A hands-free cell phone device, like a Bluetooth, is no safer than talking on a handheld cell phone, according to new research from the University of Alberta. It's actually just as dangerous.
According to the St. Albert Gazette, a pilot study determined that drivers who use hands-free devices are actually more likely to engage in driving errors compared to drivers who are driving with no communication device. Some of the most commonly witnessed driving errors included changing lanes without a signal, speeding and even crossing into other lanes.

Our Los Angeles car accident lawyers understand that all drivers are banned from using a hand-held communication device at the wheel. All drivers have also been prohibited from text messaging behind the wheel, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). But these bans aren't keeping drivers off their phones. They're just more likely to get drivers to use hands-free devices, which are no safer in preventing traffic accidents.

Researchers collected driving information from more than 25 male drivers (between the ages of 18 and 45). They were monitored through a driving simulator. They drove without distractions for 4 minutes, and also engaged in distractions for another 2 minutes (using a hands-free device). According to research, there was a near 50 percent increase in the number of driving errors while the drivers used these hands-free devices.

"What is even more disturbing is the severity of those errors," said lead researcher Yagesh Bhambhani.

But researchers took it one step further. They used near infrared spectroscopy, which determined that the blood flow to the brain and the heart rate also spiked while drivers were engaged in the hands-free device, proving that these distractions do more than take your eyes off the road.

Think it's the women that are blabbing on the phone more than the men? Think again. It's actually the men who are using the phone more behind the wheel. They surpassed women's phone usage by about 10 percent. However, the usage dropped overall as the age of the driver increased.

This study aimed to help lawmakers better grasp just how dangerous distracted driving really is -- even when the distractions don't require your hands.

If you're busted on the phone in the driver's seat in the state of California, you're looking at a first-offense fine of $20.

The truth of the matter is that there are still thousands of people who are killed in distracted driving traffic accidents each and every year. And these accidents are completely preventable. It all comes down to the driver -- hanging up the phone and keeping their hands on the wheel and their attention on the road. Don't waste your money and don't risk your life. Hang up while you're in the driver's seat.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, contact Vincent Howard today for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights. Call (800) 872-5925.

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California Work Accidents, Cell Phones and Distracted Driving, California Injury Lawyers, January 17, 2013

California Governor Vetoes Tougher Distracted Driving Penalties, California Injury Lawyers, December 3, 2012