In recent years, many states have begun to restrict motorists from talking on their handheld cellphones while driving unless the phones are being used in a “hands-free” manner. Essentially, the idea is that drivers are less distracted if they do not have to hold their phones to their heads or manually dial numbers, and thus less likely to get into distracted driving car accidents. However, according to a recent study issued by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, using “hands-free” phones while behind the wheel may not be as safe as first believed.
Specifically, researchers conducting the study on behalf of the AAA focused their research on the three main sources of driver distractions: visual distraction, manual distractions and cognitive distractions.
In particular, researchers monitored the eye movements and brainwaves – in addition to other factors – of 32 students as they engaged in a variety of distractions while driving. Eye movement was measured using mounted cameras while special skullcaps were used to monitor brain activity.
Ultimately, researchers found that talking on a cellphone is considered a moderate risk while behind the wheel, regardless of whether the phone is being used hands-free or not. Furthermore, the study discovered that using voice-activated text messaging while driving is considered even more dangerous.
Interestingly, Georgia currently has no law forbidding drivers from talking on handheld cellphones while driving – although drivers younger than 18 are banned from talking on cellphones while behind the wheel, even if they are hands-free. Conversely, all Georgia drivers are prohibited from using their cellphones to send, read or write text messages while driving.
And, while the texting ban is a good start, hopefully the recent AAA study will make Georgia lawmakers think twice before creating a “hands-free” exception if they ever outlaw all cellphone use while driving.
If a negligent distracted driver in Georgia has injured you, it is important to know that remedies may be available to compensate you for your damages. For instance, if a driver who was texting at the time of the accident has injured you, you may be able to hold the driver liable for your medical bills or lost wages. Accordingly, it is often best to seek the counsel of an experienced distracted driving accident attorney who can outline your rights and options given your particular circumstances.
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