Driving while using your cell phone is so dangerous because it often mixes two or even all three types of distraction all at once: cognitive (thinking), visual (eyesight), and manual (use of your hands). Conventional wisdom states that eliminating two of these three types of distraction should make things safer, should it not? Well, as it turns out, studies are repeatedly showing that even technology and devices that are designed to make cell phone use “safer,” are actually doing anything but. On this blog, we’ll explore what a few of these studies are saying so you can get the truth and become a better, safer driver on the road.
Handsets vs. Hands-Free
A study conducted by researchers at the University of Sussex in England back in 2015 attempted to determine whether a hands-free device in a vehicle is any safer, including Bluetooth technology that often places buttons and information within the driver’s immediate reach and line of sight. While most people would think that technology that doesn’t actually remove a driver’s line of sight from the road or require them to take their hands off the wheel would make driving easier and thus safer, the study surprisingly came to exactly the opposite conclusion.
The study tracked the eye movements of drivers having conversations on a cell phone compared to those who were having a conversation with a fellow passenger and those who were undistracted. Those on the phone moved their eyes in a significantly smaller area, leading to “visual tunneling” and loads of missed hazards that undistracted drivers avoided or noticed with ease.
Though perhaps the most surprising result was evidence showing that drivers having a conversation with a passenger showed far lower levels of distraction and missed far fewer obstacles.
Some modern luxury vehicles are starting to utilize text-to-speech technology which reads received text messages directly to drivers, eliminating the requirement of reading which removes your eyes from the road. Some of these devices can even send text messages back by simply allowing drivers to dictate the text of their replies. Conventional wisdom says that by eliminating the manual and visual distraction of typing a text message, you’re making driving safer.
However, once again studies proved exactly the opposite, this time directly comparing texting in both a hands-free and hands-on fashion. Texas A&M Transportation Institute researchers had drivers navigate a course using one of three different texting methods: text by voice, text by typing, and not texting at all. The results: there was virtually no difference between drivers using the hands-free and hands-on devices.
Drivers in both situations exhibited significantly delayed reaction times that were about twice as long as the driver who wasn’t texting at all. They even spent less time actually watching the road, even without the requirement of having to actually look at their phone or touch it to send or receive the message.
Florida’s Cell Phone Laws
It may seem amazing that cell phones have been a big part of our lives for close to two decades now, and yet we’re still figuring out how to use them in our daily lives. Laws in states across the nation are also struggling to keep up with the grim reality that cell phone use is a danger to drivers everywhere. Even here in Florida, cell phone conversations of all types are perfectly legal behind the wheel (although texting is now banned for all drivers). So what can you do to stay safe on the roads here in Florida? The answer is simple: stay alert and stay off the phone at all costs. By making it a personal rule, you’ll significantly reduce your chances of a potentially devastating crash.If you have been injured in a car accident with a driver distracted by their cell phone, call a Martin County car accident attorney from Lauri J. Goldstein & Associates, PLLC today at (866) 675-4427!