Hands-Free is Not Risk-Free. The Dangers of Voice Activated Devices

Hands on steering wheel. View of highway through windshield

Several studies have documented the dangers of cellphone use while driving. In many states, including Illinois and Missouri, the use of a hand-held device while driving is against the law.

Voice-activated electronics, also known as “hands-free” devices, are becoming increasingly popular in motor vehicles. Offering an alternative to hand-held options such as cellphones and tablets, voice-activated devices are intended to reduce distraction. But do they actually?

Types of Distraction

There are three primary types of distraction:

  • Manual: Anything that takes your hands off of the steering wheel
  • Visual: Anything that takes your eyes off of the road
  • Cognitive: Anything that takes your mind away from the task of driving

Hand-held cellphone use involves all three types of distraction, making the behavior particularly dangerous while driving.

Hands-free devices, on the surface, involve only cognitive distraction. Ideally, this should reduce the risk of causing an accident. But studies reported by the National Safety Council (NSC) suggest this simply is not the case.

The NSC reports that drivers talking on the phone – even hands-free – fail to see around 50% of their surroundings. What’s more, some research has found using a hands-free device requires more cognitive attention than a hand-held option, particularly with talk-to-text, which often requires reading and revising, bringing manual and visual distraction into the mix.

Distracted Driving Awareness Month

April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, a time to reflect on your driving habits and to make changes that can help keep everyone on the road safer. This April, consider taking the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s pledge to #justdrive and help protect yourself and everyone you share the road with from an avoidable accident.

Have You Been Injured?

Even the safest of drivers cannot always avoid an accident. If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident caused by a distracted driver, it is a good idea to consult with an experienced lawyer who can help you understand your rights and your options.

The attorneys at Brown & Brown are here to listen to your experience, provide straightforward information about your rights, and help you understand the best path forward. Please call our St. Louis office at 314-333-3333 or our Illinois office at 618-888-8888 to schedule your free case review today.

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