Many Washington, D.C., denizens who use cellphones while driving have started to use voice command systems to help keep them from being distracted. A recent study, however, indicated that they may not be as effective as hoped as it seems that more than the act of looking away from the road causes cellphone use while on the road to be dangerous. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety sponsored a study that discovered that the chances of someone getting into a car accident when using a mobile device increase even when the person is using a hands-free or voice-activated system.
The study showed that when people use a mobile device on the road, their mental workload increases, which causes them to pay less attention to the road, a phenomenon dubbed “inattention blindness.” Consequently, individuals’ brain functions are compromised, they scan the road less, their field of vision becomes smaller and their reaction time slows. In some cases, this can cause people to miss seeing stops signs or pedestrians.
Visual and manual issues related to texting have already been studied extensively, but this research effort looked at the overall cognitive impact of using mobile devices while driving. The study involved 150 drivers, and researchers discovered that how people use mobile devices while on the road has little impact on how distracted they were. In other words, manual texting and driving is just as bad as using voice-to-text systems.
Those who are not paying full attention to the road increase their chances of causing an accident. If someone has been involved in an accident caused by a distracted driver, they may be owed compensation for medical bills, lost wages and vehicle repairs. A personal injury lawyer may help someone pursue this compensation and represent them in court if needed.
Source: USATODAY, “Hands-free texting and calling are not risk-free,” Larry Copeland, June 12, 2013