Is hands-free mobile use while driving safe?

Jason R. Schultz
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Jason R. Schultz is a Peachtree City Personal Injury Attorney Serving the Greater Atlanta Metro Area

Everyone agrees that texting or otherwise looking at your cell phone while driving, even just to press send, is dangerous. Because of the inherent dangers of taking your eyes off the road, most states have banned texting or other cell phone use for drivers. 

But what about hands-free mobile use? The safety advantages of hands-free technologies compared to manually using your hands to make calls or read text messages is clear. But is hands-free mobile use while driving truly and completely safe? Based on recent studies and safety reports, perhaps not.

How does hands-free technology work?

In newer vehicles equipped with Bluetooth, you can directly sync your smart phone to your car, avoiding the need to take your eyes off the road to answer a phone call or read a text. Once synced, your car will automatically mute the radio and play your phone’s ring tone through the car’s speakers. You can audibly choose to answer the call and speak to the person on the other end directly through your vehicle.

Even if your car doesn’t have Bluetooth technology built in, you can still use hands-free technology while driving by using a Bluetooth headset or using a smart phone’s personal assistant, including:

  • Apple’s Siri
  • Microsoft’s Cortana
  • Android’s Google Now

Both versions of Bluetooth and personal assistants may also be able to:

  • Read text messages out loud to you
  • Allow you to send your own messages via speech to text technology
  • Place phone calls
  • Change the radio station without using your hands 

Hands-free Cell Phone Use Still Takes Your Mind Off the Task of Driving

Even though hands-free technology is, theoretically, safer than hands-on cell phone use, this does not make it safe. According to one study by the University of Utah for the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety in 2015, people spend an average of 27 seconds returning their focus to the road after using voice commands. This is more than enough time of distraction to cause a serious accident because 27 seconds is long enough to drive the length of three football fields when traveling just 25 mph.

Another potential danger of hands-free technology is distraction caused by the frustration associated with voice commands. We have all spoken with those automated customer service lines. Usually, you end up repeating yourself so much that you wish you were speaking with a real person. Take that frustration and place it behind the wheel of a car speeding down a busy highway and you have a recipe for disaster.

If You Must Use This Technology, Do So Only With Extreme Caution

Do not make the mistake of thinking that since you are using hands-free technology to place a phone call that you are 100 percent focused on the road ahead of you. Remember to keep your eyes on the road and on other drivers around you. If necessary, mute or ignore the person on the other end of the line until it is safe to continue speaking with them.

If at all possible, delay using any hands-free mobile device until your car is safely in park. Even with new technology, your safest bet is simply to wait. Your friends and family will understand the need for the delay.

If you have been suffered injuries in a distracted driving accident that another driver caused, call Jason R. Schultz today. Call 404-474-0804 to set up a free consultation with an Atlanta car accident attorney.

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