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Hands Free Devices as Distracting to Drivers as Hand Held Study Shows

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The fact that distracted is a leading cause of traffic accidents is well known. The behaviors to receive most of the blame are texting or talking on cell phones and tablets. Recent lawsuits have brought attention to other forms of distraction such as Facetime, GPS navigation and even playing Pokémon Go. It has been proven many times that any handheld distractions impair a driver's ability to focus on the task of safe driving.

Lately however, research has shown that hands-free devices do not offer the safety over handheld devices as originally thought. A recent study by the University of Sussex has indicated that hands-free devices can be equally as distracting as their handheld counterparts. A new study supports those findings.

In a recent study of handheld and hands-free devices, and their effect on a driver's ability to react, was conducted by researchers at Queensland University of Technology. The researchers discovered that use of either type of device caused a significant reduction in the driver's reaction times.

Diminished Peripheral Vision

The participants in a study group were asked to drive on a "virtual road network." The driver's reaction time was measured when a pedestrian entered the drivers field of vision from a pathway onto a crosswalk. The results of the test showed the use of both the handheld devices and the hands-free devices slowed by 40% over drivers who were not using either device. The delay in response time equated to 11 meters (36 feet) of greater stopping distance at 40 km/h (25mph).

While talking on either device, the drivers visual scanning pattern becomes disrupted, causing them to become less aware of details, like having blind spots within their field of vision, according to Dr. Shimuli Hague.

"The human brain compensates for receiving increased information from mobile phone conversation by not sending visual information to the working memory, leading to a tendency to look at, but not see objects by distracted drivers." Dr. Hague said.

Dr. Hague proceeded to explain that the type of distraction is very important. "A driver having a conversation with a passenger is far less distracted since the passenger can help to control the conversation. For example, if the driver is entering a crowded intersection, the passenger can remain silent, allowing the driver to pay closer attention to the periphery."

Driving experience is not a major factor when it comes to distracted driving, Dr. Hague also explained. The participants in the study averaged two or more years of driving experience. That experience did not significantly affect the distractions that led to a diminished ability to detect the pedestrian on the crosswalk. The distracted drivers also showed a greater tendency to brake abruptly, which could pose a danger for other drivers on the road.

"While the driver is likely to be compensating for the perceived risk of talking and driving, the abrupt or excessive braking by distracted drivers poses a safety concern to following vehicles." Dr. Hague said.

Dr. Hague concluded by adding that the findings of the study demonstrate the need for stricter mobile device laws for drivers.

The last full year of available statistics on distracted driving deaths was 2015. The National Safety Council reported 3,417 deaths were attributed to distracted driving that year. An expected rise, of as much as 10%, is expected for 2016 as indicated by statistics for the first six months.

Injured by a Distracted Driver?

If you or a loved one was injured, or if you lost a loved one, due to the actions of a distracted driver, it is imperative to consult with an experienced auto accident attorney for an evaluation of your case. The attorney will have the resources to thoroughly investigate every detail leading up to the accident including interviewing witnesses, examining police reports and virtual accident reconstruction. Phone data records can be subpoenaed to determine whether the other driver was talking or texting at the time of the crash. This can be critical evidence in an auto accident case but it must be determined when the call began and when it ended. Did it end when the recipient hung up or when the driver ended the call? Did the driver know the recipient hung up or did he continue being distracted talking to nobody? Only an experienced auto accident attorney will be able to make that determination and use it to prove the case.

For a free evaluation of your case against a distracted driver, reach out the personal injury law firm of Vititoe Law Group. Vititoe Law Group has successfully represented countless victims of accidents caused by distracted drivers, recovering substantial awards for clients. Call today for a free, no obligation consultation.

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