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Hands free cellphones are dangerous to use behind the wheel

While many people have turned to using hands free cellphones in order to stay in compliance with WA state law, studies show that they are not safe to use while driving.

Washington is one of 14 states that bans drivers from using hand-held cellphones and was the first state to prohibit drivers from texting, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. As a result, many motorists have started using hands free cellular devices and voice-activated technology while driving. Although many people believe that hands free devices are safer to use than hand-held cellphones while behind the wheel, studies show that talking on any type of cellular device is significantly distracting and can lead to a serious car accident.

The study

The National Safety Council evaluated more than 30 studies performed on cognitive distraction and found that when drivers talk on hands free cellphones, they are putting themselves and everyone else on the road in danger. Some people may feel as though they are perfectly capable of maintaining a conversation on the phone while driving a car. However, they may be unaware of what is actually going on in their brain.

The human brain is unable to effectively engage in two challenging tasks at the same time. Rather than focus on the road ahead, the driver's concentration switches quickly back and forth between the road ahead and the conversation at hand. This means that there are moments in time where the motorist is not aware of what is going on in his or her driving environment. Talking on a hands free cellphone while driving reduces a motorists' ability to respond to objects in the road, pedestrian crossings, traffic signals, bad weather conditions and traffic.

What is cognitive distraction?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cognitive distraction is just one of three types of driver distraction. When motorists focus on something other than the act of driving, they are said to be cognitively distracted. Visual distractions occur when drivers remove their eyes off of the road to search for a radio station, text or dial a phone number. Manual distractions, on the other hand, require drivers to take their hands off of the steering wheel. For example, when a driver reaches for an object on the floor, they are both manually and visually distracted. Hands free cellphones are successful at eliminating manual and visual distractions. However, the amount of cognitive distraction they cause is still considered dangerous.

Finding help after an accident

Car accidents caused by distracted drivers can result in serious injuries, property damage and emotional trauma. Injured victims of these accidents may want to speak with an attorney in Washington who has a thorough understanding of state laws.

Keywords: distracted driving, cellphone, car accident