The rise of our cell phone culture has also led to a backlash against distracted driving. As countless studies have pointed out, texting and driving are no laughing matter, and many states have passed laws requiring drivers to either hang up or use a “hands free” device. But is anyone monitoring the safety of these devices? A recent study by the American Automobile Association (AAA) suggests that not only are hands free devices ineffective at reducing distracted driving, they are actually more dangerous than handheld devices.
These findings are particularly troubling because many states enforce laws encouraging drivers to use these devices in lieu of using their phones. For example, in many states it is illegal to talk or text while driving, but legal if you are using a hands free device. The AAA says this isn’t helping drivers stay safe, and these types of distracted driving laws have failed to reduce overall crash statistics and risky behavior.
According to the study, speech-to-text devices were three times more distracting than listening to the radio. Participants in the study were instructed to adjust volume and call settings prior to driving, so these findings do not reflect these aspects of using hands free devices. It’s also important to note that while hands free devices may be legal, they do not automatically clear a driver of liability in a car accident. A driver may still be liable for careless driving if their phone records indicate that they were distracted by their phone (hands free or otherwise) at the time of the accident.
As helpful as using hands-free devices while driving may seem, it’s best to utilize them only when the car is parked. Whatever state you live in, focus solely on driving while behind the wheel. Any pressing email or text can still wait until the car is stopped!
Do you use a hands free device when you drive? Leave your thoughts below!