Hands-free devices aren’t yet as widespread in Texas as they are in states with calling-while-driving bans. However, they are slowly but surely creeping onto our roadways. Today’s best and greatest car companies regularly show off groundbreaking, hands-free technologies that allow drivers to make calls, check Twitter and use Facebook without ever taking their hands off of the wheel. For an example of voice-activated email, just check out this hilarious 30-second ad for the 2012 BMW 3 Series. The bad news is, according to a recent study by AAA’s Foundation for Traffic Safety, “hands-free does not mean risk-free.”
In fact, AAA President and CEO Robert L. Darbelnet has ominously declared, “There is a looming public safety crisis ahead with the future proliferation of these in-vehicle technologies.” According to the comprehensive study which drew on solid cognitive distraction research, using voice-activated email systems like the one in the BMW ad is even more risky than talking on a handheld cellphone. The research draws attention to the fact that many states have laws banning handheld cellphone use, but hands-free technologies actually pose an equal or greater risk than handheld cellphones.
The study borrowed from aviation psychology to explain why listening and responding to in-vehicle, voice-activated features can pose an “extensive risk” to drivers. Basically, when drivers are engaged with these modern technologies, their “mental workload” and cognitive distraction increase to the point that they fail to see driving dangers as they normally would. When a portion of a driver’s mind is focused on a text or Facebook notification instead of on the road, the driver may end up having a sort of tunnel vision or inattention blindness. Hands-free devices can distract drivers to the point where they fail to see potential hazards that may be literally right in front of them.
In Texas, it is not against the law to talk on a handheld phone while driving. However, if you or a loved one has been injured by a distracted driver, you still have the right to hold them responsible for their negligence. The Kyle Law Firm has experienced car accident attorneys dedicated to helping you win the justice and compensation you deserve. Call or contact us online today for your free consultation on any injury-related case.