Is it Dangerous to Drive with a Hands-Free Device?
The danger of distracted driving is not a new concept. According to federal statistics, more than 3,100 people were killed and over 400,000 were injured in traffic accidents involving distracted drivers in 2020.
25 states have banned handheld devices while driving, while 48 have banned texting while driving. Despite the connection between phone use and distracted driving, many states still permit the use of hands-free devices while operating a motor vehicle.
In Wisconsin, it is illegal for drivers with probationary licenses or instruction permits to use a hands-free phone or a handheld device while driving; however, many accidents still occur due to distracted drivers. According to research, cellphone use accounts for 15% of distracted driving accidents.
Due to hands-free device usage, distracted driving accidents can cause severe injuries, including traumatic brain injury, paralysis, and even death. If you have suffered injuries from a distracted driver, a Green Bay distracted driving crash lawyer can determine if you are eligible for compensation for financial losses and non-economic damages.
Both hands-free and handheld devices are dangerous because the conversation with someone who is elsewhere distracts the driver from the task at hand.
According to a study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, your brain remains distracted for an average of 27 seconds after the conversation ends or after sending a text using voice commands. If you are traveling at just 25 mph, you can travel the length of three football fields while distracted.
Distracted driving using a hands-free device also increases the driver’s cognitive load resulting in slower reaction rates to hazards, such as reckless drivers, pedestrians, potholes, or poor weather conditions. It can also cause poor decision-making with regard to speed and perceived distance from other drivers.
Another study has shown that the cognitive workload increases because the driver’s brain is forced to work on two complex tasks simultaneously. Both driving and communicating via hands-free devices require the same attentional resources.
This competition for finite cognitive resources leads to dangerous driving, including exceeding the speed limit. If a lot of the driver’s attention is being placed on a phone call, they may be unable to focus, which increases the risk of accidents occurring.
Drivers understand that they are distracted when using handheld devices and compensate for driving using their phones. However, studies show that the same compensations are not made when using a hands-free device.
Because both hands are free for driving, many drivers fail to notice how much of a distraction communicating on the device can be. This complacency adds to the risk of accidents because distracted drivers believe that they are safe.
Auto accidents involving distracted drivers are a common occurrence in Wisconsin. Approximately 10,000 crashes involved distracted drivers in 2021, an increase of 13% from the previous year. These crashes resulted in 40 deaths.
Traffic accidents can be costly, both financially and emotionally. If you are personally injured, you may require surgery, rehabilitation, and physical therapy, which can incur steep medical costs. During your recovery or due to your injuries, you may no longer be able to work, leading to financial strain due to lost wages. If the accident resulted from a driver distracted by their phone, you might be entitled to more compensation.
Wisconsin follows a fault-based system when determining liability in a car accident case. This means that the at-fault party is responsible for covering the cost of medical bills, lost income, property damage, and pain and suffering. If you are the victim of a distracted driving accident, you can pursue compensation through several avenues, including:
- Filing a third-party claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company
- Filing a claim with your own insurance company if the at-fault driver does not have adequate coverage
- Filing a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver in civil court
At Brian Hodgkiss Injury Lawyers, we are experienced in negotiating with insurance companies to ensure that you are fairly compensated when an accident isn’t your fault.