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Hands-Free Devices Still Increasing Risks of Auto Accidents

December 31, 1969

As we've recently reported on our California Injury Lawyers, the month of April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Unfortunately, many drivers think that they're alright if they're using a hands-free device behind the wheel.
"My hands on are the wheel and my eyes are on the road -- How is that distracted?"

Our Los Angeles car accident lawyers understand that hands-free devices are no safer for drivers than hand-held ones. The problem is that our brains aren't wired to juggle two tasks at one time. When it all boils down -- multi-tasking is a myth. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), talking on hands-free or handheld cell phones requires the brain to multitask - a process it cannot do safely while driving. What we interpret as multitasking is our brain simply switching back and forth between activities. Our attention can never fully be on two things at once -- meaning we can't talk on the phone and drive safely at the same time. It's our driving and our safety that suffers.

According to the NSC, car accidents continue to be a leading cause of death and injury for Americans. A good portion of these accidents are caused by distracted drivers. Although texting is clearly a serious distraction, NSC data show drivers talking on cell phones are involved in more crashes. More people are talking on cell phones while driving more often, and for greater lengths of time, than they are texting. Thus, in 2010, an estimated minimum of 160,000 crashes involved texting or emailing, versus 1.1 million crashes that involved talking on cell phones. Distracted driving car accidents took the lives of close to 3,500 people in the U.S. in 2011. This is a number that's on the rise.

Most people are able to recognize when they're visually or mechanically distracted and they usually try to stop themselves from participating in these activities as quickly as possible However, drivers typically don't know when they're cognitively distracted, such as
taking part in a phone conversation. What this means is that risk last much, much longer. This likely explains why researchers have not been able to find a safety benefit to hands-free phone devices.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), all drivers in the state of California are prohibited from talking on a hand-held cell phone or text messaging behind the wheel. This is why drivers think that it's such a savior to have these hands-free phones.

In honor of California's state cell phone law and in honor of National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, we're asking all drivers to hang up the phone and turn off the hands-free devices. Keep 100 percent of your attention on the task at hand -- driving.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a car accident, contact HOWARD LAW P.C. for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your case. Call (800) 872-5925.

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SoCal Car Accident Risks on the Rise, California Injury Lawyers, March 5, 2013