Hands-Free Driving Devices: Everything You Need to Know

Written by Jeremy D. Earle, JD

July 28, 2022

Can I use a Hands Free Phone While Driving?

As mobile phones and other forms of communication become more common, drivers find it more difficult to ignore them while driving. Those text messages that keep flooding in appear to require a quick answer. Regardless of the driver’s other demands, an incoming phone call draws their attention at that instant.

As the number of accidents caused by distracted mobile devices has increased, policymakers have started to react by enacting legislation and rules to prohibit cell phone usage while driving.

Using a mobile phone while driving is illegal in most states; in Colorado, for example, this includes:

No texting while driving is permitted for any reason.

Drivers with learner’s permits must refrain from using their cell phones.

Drivers under 18 are not allowed to use portable devices or chat on the phone while driving.

Despite these restrictions, the constant buzz or ring of a mobile phone might be difficult to ignore. When there are so many other things vying for your attention, how can you keep your hands on the wheel?

Hands-free devices are now available. You could believe that by using a hands-free device, you can not only stay in compliance with the legislation regulating device usage while driving, but you can significantly reduce your chances of being involved in an accident. Isn’t it a win-win situation? Certainly not.

Is it true that using a hands-free gadget reduces the chance of an accident? Is it possible to drive while using a hands-free device while keeping yourself and others in the car safe? Take a look at some fascinating statistics regarding using a hands-free device in your car and how you can increase your driving safety while not missing those crucial calls and alerts.

DOES USING A HANDS-FREE DEVICE REDUCE ACCIDENT RISK?

According to research conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, utilizing hands-free devices reduces accident risk compared to the possible dangers of actively using a mobile phone, such as texting while driving. However, according to the research, drivers who

 

utilized hand-held gadgets had a two to 3.5 times higher accident risk than drivers who focused their eyes, hands, and undivided concentration on the job at hand.

According to the research, while cognitive distraction may raise the likelihood of an accident on the road, it is not nearly as dangerous as removing one’s eyes and/or hands off the road.

It’s helpful to break down the three main kinds of distractions drivers experience on the road to completely comprehend the dangers of distracted driving. Let’s have a look at what we’ve got.

DISTRACTION WITH THINGS BEING HELD

Manual distractions take one or both hands off the steering wheel. Texting, holding a phone to your ear, and navigating a mobile phone’s buttons and inputs are all examples of manual distractions. Most of the time, while dealing with a job inside the car, such as taking a phone call or sending a text message, individuals don’t take both hands off the wheel.

However, in the case of a risk, drivers may need both hands on the wheel to react swiftly, particularly if they need to swerve fast to escape a road hazard. Every second is crucial. The additional time it takes to get the driver’s hands back on the wheel might be the difference between keeping safe and being involved in a catastrophic catastrophe!

DISTRACTING VISUALS

Visual disturbances divert the driver’s attention away from the road. In general, it takes around five seconds to glance down, read, and respond to a text message—especially if the driver feels they can examine the message in their lap rather than raising the phone to eye level.

Your car might move hundreds of feet in those five seconds. In five seconds, anything may happen. The car in front of you may slam on its brakes. A kid could dart out into oncoming traffic. You could come upon an unexpected curve or kink in the road ahead of you, or you might come across an unexpected slippery area. Those seconds of distraction, with your eyes and focus off the road, might be fatal.

DISTRACTIONS IN THE MIND

Now and again, everyone’s mind wanders. If individuals were honest with themselves, they would confess that they drive with cognitive distractions daily. Anything that diverts the driver’s attention away from the road is a cognitive distraction: conversing with passengers, dealing with children in the back seat, or even daydreaming.

“I need a rest break, and I can’t think about anything else!” might be a simple cognitive distraction. Nonetheless, cognitive distractions may result in major accidents, particularly in younger drivers who may lack the ability to react automatically to probable roadside crises. On the other hand, cognitive distractions are less dangerous than other sorts of diversions.

CELL PHONES: A TRIPLE THREAT TO DISTRACTED DRIVING

 

Have you ever noticed how using a mobile phone on typical portable device results in all three sorts of distraction? The user removes at least one hand off the steering wheel to pick up the gadget and utilize its interface. Their gaze is drawn to the gadget, which they examine to see who phoned, what the text message said, and how they responded. Therefore, the driver’s attention is drawn to the gadget rather than the road in front of them.

Two of the three categories of distraction can be reduced with hands-free gadgets. They keep the driver’s eyes and attention on the road, where they can focus on the work at hand more readily while still enabling the driver to respond to important messages. Fortunately, the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute research found that the cognitive distraction associated with conversing with someone outside the car had a considerably lower chance of causing a catastrophic accident than other forms of distraction behind the wheel.

HANDS-FREE DEVICES AND THEIR POTENTIAL RISKS

While utilizing hands-free devices may lower the likelihood of an accident, it does not eliminate it.

While using a hands-free device, drivers may get distracted and struggle to maintain their focus on the road, particularly if they have an emotional discussion.

Drivers who are conversing with persons outside the car may be less aware of potential threats.

According to a University of Sussex research, drivers engaged in discussion with someone outside the car, particularly one that involves visual imagination, are less likely to notice possible risks in front of the car. In general, those drivers focused on a smaller portion of the road, making it more difficult to see dangers along the route.

A discussion with a car passenger does not offer the same risk since passengers may detect possible dangers ahead and control dialogue appropriately, keeping the driver’s attention from slipping away from the road at a key time.

Hands-free gadgets may not be able to remove visual distractions completely.

While hands-free gadgets strive to reduce visual and physical distractions, they do not always eliminate them. Hands-free gadgets often demand some concentration to work.

Let’s say you want to send a text message or respond to an email using a voice-activated assistant. That assistant may read you a prior email or dictate the other party’s SMS message, saving you the trouble of looking down. When you submit your message, though, you’ll only know whether the digital assistant correctly transcribed it by glancing at it and correcting it.

Some cars, such as huge trucks with a lot of engine noise, might make it more difficult to correctly transcribe a message without making mistakes. (Don’t we all have a hilarious anecdote about a dictation mishap?) Looking down at your message may cause you to take your eyes off the road for longer than you intended, particularly if you attempt to make changes to it afterward.

 

When we say “hands-free,” we don’t necessarily mean “completely hands-free.”

You will need to specify what you want the hands-free gadget to accomplish before using it. This may often be as simple as pressing a single button. You may need to press more than one button to get the desired outcome in certain cases. While certain hands-free technologies, such as cars with controls built into the steering wheel, may need less physical distraction than others, you may still need to take your hands off the wheel to interact with a device.

Furthermore, when technology malfunctions or fails to act as anticipated, many individuals take their hands off the wheel to deal with the problem without considering the repercussions.

MULTITASKING MAY POSE A VARIETY OF COGNITIVE DIFFICULTIES

The human brain is incapable of multitasking. In general, you may concentrate on one activity at a time without losing sight of your overall objectives. When you divide your concentration between two jobs, neither receives your whole attention, which may be dangerous on the road for you and everyone else.

Consider the following situation. You’ve phoned into work to discuss a pending project with your supervisor. You know in your head, but concentrating on it requires a lot of your energy and concentration. Another car suddenly pulls out in front of you. You must now concentrate not just on avoiding an accident but also on managing what your supervisor may hear—especially if your call involves customers. You might cause a major accident without ever taking your hands off the wheel if your concentration is divided!

SAFELY USING HANDS-FREE DEVICES

While hands-free gadgets may lower the likelihood of an accident, they do not eliminate it. Not only will you be in greater danger on the road, but if your usage of a hands-free device leads to an accident, you may be held liable. Using hands-free devices securely on the road may keep you and others around you safer.

IF AT ALL POSSIBLE, AVOID USING MOBILE DEVICES

You can’t always tell when a phone call will come in. If you’ve been waiting for that call for a long time, ignoring it may cause you grief and frustration. Answer the incoming phone if the situation is urgent, such as making an appointment or answering a call from a youngster       at home. On the other hand, if you know it’s a buddy who simply wants to talk, you may wish to ignore the call. First and foremost, safety! Many smartphones now offer “do not disturb” or “driving mode” options that may quiet alarms or automatically react to messages to notify your contacts that you are driving.

KEEP TALKS BRIEF AND TO THE POINT

 

Tell the person on the other end of the line that you were interrupted while driving and that you cannot speak for a long time. Do not get engrossed in chit-chat. Instead, after delivering any required information, swiftly stop the call.

STAY AWAY FROM OTHER SOURCES OF DISTRACTION

The receptionist wants to double-check your insurance details on the other end of the line. Your employer asks you to double-check one brief piece of information that only you know. Your youngster is seeking your guidance. Unfortunately, all of these items need extra distractions that divert more than just your focus away from the road, potentially putting you in danger.

Tell the individuals on the other line that you’re driving and that you’ll get back to them as soon as you’re in a safe place. If you need to offer that information right away for whatever reason, drive off the road to a safe location before letting your mind wander.

TRY TO BEGIN YOUR TALKS IN A SECURE ENVIRONMENT

Using your hands-free device to start a conversation may involve physical or visual distraction. Even though most hands-free gadgets just need a few button presses, you should still double-check the display. Start your talk in a parking lot if at all feasible. You should not start your discussion at a red light or a stop sign since you may lose sight of the behavior of other cars.

Using a hands-free device reduces but does not eliminate driver distraction on the road. You might be entitled to compensation if you were injured in an accident caused by a distracted motorist, including one who was distracted by a hands-free device.

Whether you were hit by a car and believed the driver was distracted by a mobile phone or another distraction, contact a car accident lawyer to determine if you may seek compensation for your losses.

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