Hands free devices act as serious distraction for motorists

Drivers are prohibited from using hand-held cellphones in Illinois. However, hands free cellular devices may not be a safe alternative.

As more and more Americans become smartphone owners, the risk of being involved in a car accident caused by a distracted driver increases significantly. According to Distraction.gov, distracted driving accidents injured 424,000 people and killed 3,154 people across the U.S. in 2013. Illinois, and many other states throughout the country, has taken action by enacting laws which prohibit texting and talking on hand-held cellphones while driving.

As an alternative, many drivers have turned to using hands free cellphones. These devices allow motorists to use their cellphones while behind the wheel and stay in compliance with the law. However, some people may be under the false pretense that using a hands free cellphone eliminates driver distractions altogether. Studies show, that hands free cellphones still act as a significant distraction, and can contribute to motor vehicle accidents, injuries and even death.

Focusing on the road

Hand-held cellphones, require drivers to remove their hands from the steering wheel and eyes from the road in order to operate them. Hands free devices, on the other hand, can be operated with limited manual or visual distraction. Yet, research indicates that people who use hands free cellphones while driving are not able to concentrate on the road.

The National Safety Council reviewed numerous studies conducted on cognitive distraction, and reported that the human brain is actually incapable of performing two complex tasks at the same time. Rather than engaging in both tasks simultaneously, the brain bounces back and forth from one activity to the other. This leaves brief moments of time where the driver's brain is not fully focused on the road ahead. When drivers are not devoting their full attention to driving, they are less likely to respond to certain hazards. These include pedestrian crosswalks, traffic signals, objects in the road, bad weather conditions and other drivers.

How to stay safe

The most effective way that motorists can stay safe on the road is to avoid using cellular devices altogether. Drivers should avoid engaging in other distractive behaviors, such as eating, drinking, reaching out to grab something, programing navigational devices, putting on makeup or manipulating the radio.

What to do after an accident occurs

A car accident caused by a negligent driver can have devastating results. You may be physically and emotionally traumatized and have to stay home from work while you recover. A personal injury attorney in Illinois may be able to help explore your legal options. You may be entitled to compensation for your property damage, lost wages, medical expenses and emotional despair.