New study shows hands-free phone use may not be safe for drivers

Car Accidents,Firm News On Thursday, October 16, 2014

Despite laws aimed at keeping motorists focused on the task of driving, distractions, such as cell phone use, regularly contribute to causing motor vehicle accidents in New Haven and throughout the state. These collisions, like those caused by other factors, can result in serious injury and death to innocent, attentive drivers, or their passengers. In an effort to keep motorists’ hands on their wheels and eyes on the roads in front of them, the demand for built-in dashboard infotainment systems in vehicles and voice-activated smartphones has increased.

At Loughlin FitzGerald, we often speak with people who have experienced situations such as this and we understand the hardships that they can face as a result. It can be important for people to understand how motorists are affected by hands-free technologies not only to ensure they are safe drivers, but also so that they are aware when another driver could be held liable for an auto accident. In this post, we will discuss a new study conducted by the American Automobile Association’s Foundation for Traffic Safety and the University of Utah that examined how drivers are affected by hands-free technologies.

Researchers conducting the study asked volunteers and students from the University of Utah to perform various tasks while in a laboratory, while in a driving simulator and while driving a vehicle. Researchers, cameras, electronic sensors, and other equipment monitored the study’s participants while they used the voice-activated software on different cell phones, including the Apple iPhone’s Siri, as well as built-in dashboard systems. The systems were rated using a scale of one through five. A one on the scale represented no distractions, while a five was comparable to performing word memorization or complex math problems.

Overall, the study’s findings found that hands-free does not necessarily mean risk-free. According to the findings, less accurate systems tend to generate higher levels of distraction than those that were more reliable. Additionally, the study found that using hands-free systems to compose emails or text messages was more distracting for drivers than using these systems to listen to messages. It appears, based on the study, that the type of voice that the systems uses – synthetic or natural, does not impact drivers’ distraction levels. Depending on the task being performed and the system being used, even hands-free use of cell phones can result in auto accidents.

To learn more, visit our texting-while-driving car accident page.

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