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Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP

Hands Free Technology: Is it as Dangerous as Texting when Driving?

While many states, including New York, have banned texting while driving, a recent study has focused on the dangers of hands free communication in cars, something that has not yet been contentious.

A study released in October by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has indicated that drivers can be more distracted by voice technology than having nothing in the car at all. The report suggested that drivers who have been distracted by hands free communication may be so distracted that they do not spot pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists, other vehicles and road signage. The effect of these distractions on the accident frequency is hard to miss.

The study focused on the accuracy of voice-recognition software and concluded that there was a significant correlation between the degree of distraction and the accuracy of the technology. When the accuracy level was perceived to be low, the level of distractedness was correspondingly high. The use of in-vehicle technology for composing emails and text messages was also reported to be more distracting than just listening to messages.

The study concluded that, while many drivers think that hands free technology is safe, it is instead potentially dangerous. The message has not gotten through to state transportation authorities who have gradually been banning texting while driving but have yet to take measures against hands free communication.

Distracted Driving Remains a Serious Safety Issue

New York is one of a majority of states across the country that has banned texting while driving, although actually stopping drivers from using their cell phones or other devices like tablets is a lot harder. The number of citations issued for distracted driving as a result of using a cell phone or tablet is still relatively low when compared to other causes of traffic accidents like speeding or DUI.

Statistics compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) suggest that, while the incidence of alcohol- and drug-related accidents has decreased in New York as it has elsewhere in the country, the proportion of accidents that have occurred due to distracted driving has actually increased.

One alarming measure of the effect of distracted driving caused by receiving a text message while driving is the calculation that, at a speed of 55 mph (for instance), it would mean that a driver spends 4.6 seconds on average on distracted driving, i.e. 4.6 seconds, when the driver is basically driving blindfolded. At that speed, the distance being driven could be equal to the length of a football field.

The NHTSA data shows that, for teenage drivers at least, texting while driving has replaced alcohol as the leading cause of accidents that result in serious injuries and deaths. For adult drivers, driving while distracted by texting can be a six times more likely cause of serious accidents than alcohol.

Most people who use their cell phones still think that they are immune from accidents, yet they do not realize that a moment’s distraction, whether it is the illegal use of a device for texting or an illegal hands free device using voice-recognition technology, can be devastating for other road users.

If you have suffered an accident because of the negligence of another road user, you may be entitled to make a legitimate claim for compensation against the person if it can be proved that they were, in fact, negligent.

Richard S. Jaffe Esq. is a New York and Long Island based personal injury attorney with extensive experience in personal injury and wrongful death claims. Contact him for a free consultation at the Law Offices of Cohen & Jaffe LLP, 2001 Marcus Avenue, Suite W295, Lake Success, NY 11042. Phone: 516-358-6900 or toll free: 800-483-6149.


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