The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration points out that there are three types of distractions: cognitive, which takes a driver’s thinking off the road; visual, which take the driver’s eyes off the road; and manual, which takes a driver’s hands off the wheel. Hands-free technology is touted for its ability to enable drivers to retain visual and manual focus, but it cannot eliminate cognitive distraction.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety conducted a study to review just how safe using hands-free technology can be. Researchers a look at six common activities drivers participate in, which include the following:
The study concluded that even though the manual and visual distractions had been eliminated, the cognitive distraction led to impaired driving. Researchers noted that these activities lowered a driver’s ability to react quickly and even led to poorer functioning in the part of the brain that is necessary to drive safely.
Further, the study found that using a hands-free phone for a conversation was almost exactly as risky as using a handheld phone. The most distracting of all the activities reviewed was the speech-to-text activity.
According to the Missouri General Assembly, the state has few laws in place protecting people from distracted drivers. Currently, people 21 years or younger are not allowed to text while behind the wheel. There are stricter rules regarding commercial vehicle drivers, as they are not permitted to use handheld devices nor may they use wireless devices to perform tasks such as texting. The law does make an exception for emergency personnel or people who are trying to get emergency help. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention points out, someone who is distracted while driving is at a higher risk of causing an accident. Anyone with questions regarding this matter should consult with a personal injury attorney in Missouri.