Hands-Free Cellphones Are Not as Safe as Some NY Motorists May Think

Studies show that hands free cellular devices, although legal, can cause significant driver distraction, and increase the likelihood of a car accident.

New York has some of the strictest cellphone laws in the country. The state enforces policies making it illegal to talk or text on a hand-held cellular device while driving, according to Distraction.gov. While some motorists continue to engage in these prohibited behaviors, others have turned to hands free devices as a way to use their cellphones and stay in compliance with the law. Many studies show, however, that using hands free cellphones can be a significant source of driver distraction, comparable to texting while driving. Rather than a safe alternative to hand-held cellphones, hands free and voice automated devices may increase the risk of motor vehicle accidents, injuries and deaths for New York motorists.

A closer look at cognitive distractions

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention names three types of distractions, including manual, visual and cognitive distractions. Manual and visual distractions require drivers to remove their hands from the steering wheel or eyes off of the road. These include tasks, such as adjusting the radio, sending a text message or reaching for an object on the floor. Cognitive distractions, on the other hand, divert the driver’s concentration off of driving. Although drivers have full use of their hands and eyes, their mental focus is directed toward something else, such as a conversation.

Inattention blindness

Many drivers feel perfectly capable of maintaining a conversation over the phone while operating a vehicle. What they don’t know is that the human brain cannot focus on two complex tasks at the same time. According to the National Safety Council, it is physiologically impossible for people to multi-task. Rather than successfully complete two activities simultaneously, the brain is forced to rapidly switch back and forth between the tasks.

Drivers who are mentally engaged in a conversation are not able to perceive certain stimuli in their field of vision, which may increase the likelihood of being involved in a car accident. This inattention blindness can make it difficult for drivers to react to certain hazards, including objects in the road, inclement weather conditions, pedestrians and negligent drivers. Furthermore, hands free cellphones give drivers a false sense of security, which may cause them to displace their attention even more.

A distracted driving car accident can be extremely traumatizing, physically, financially and emotionally. People who are unable to return to work due to injuries sustained in an accident may have trouble keeping up with medical expenses and making ends meet. A personal injury lawyer in New York may help you explore your legal options and assist you in getting the compensation you need for your case.