Distracted Driving: Can Hands-Free Devices and Passenger Conversations Be Just as Bad as Holding Your Cellphone?

Many people think that talking on your cellphone while driving is not dangerous, as long as you are using a hands-free Bluetooth device. In fact, many states ─ including Florida ─ do not have bans on the use of hands-free devices while driving, but they do have bans on other cellphone-related activities, such as texting while driving.

However, a recent study by psychologists at the University of Sussex debunks the myth that driving while using a Bluetooth device is safe. On the contrary, the researchers found that hands-free talking while driving may be equally as dangerous as holding a phone to your ear.

Is Using a Hands-Free Device Dangerous?

According to the University of Sussex research, which was published by the Transportation Research journal, when drivers had conversations that sparked their visual imagination:

  • They were less likely to detect road hazards.
  • They were more likely to focus on a smaller area of the road.
  • They had difficulty seeing hazards even when they were directly in front of them.

Further, the researchers concluded that it is likely that having a conversation requires the brain to use more of its visual processing resources than previously considered. As such, the brain is distracted, and drivers are more at risk.

What About Having Passengers in the Vehicle?

The research suggests that it is not just talking on a cellphone, including a hands-free device, that may be dangerous. Having conversations with passengers in the vehicle may also be risky for drivers.

However, passengers may be less dangerous as they will usually moderate the conversation when a road hazard is present, whereas a person on the other end of a phone call has no idea what types of hazards the driver is encountering. A phone conversation is also more challenging for the brain to sustain while driving because non-verbal cues are not possible, whereas non-verbal cues in a face-to-face encounter help to ease the flow of conversation.

Safe Driving Practices - Put Your Phone Away

The study highlights the fact that no matter how safe of a driver you believe you are, talking to someone while driving could very well be too much for your brain to handle. It may in fact be overwhelming, distracting, and dangerous.

While best practices include never using a cellphone or hands-free device while operating a car, you should also consider minimizing conversations with other passengers for optimal safety.

Contact Our Royal Palm Beach Personal Injury Attorneys Now

At the law office of Rosenthal, Levy, Simon & Ryles, our lawyers in Royal Palm Beach, Florida, are dedicated to helping car accident victims recover the compensation that they need to heal from their injuries.

If you have been seriously hurt in a car accident with a distracted driver, let us help you pursue full and fair compensation for your injuries. Contact us today to schedule your free, no-obligation case review.

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