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Published on Jun 13, 2013 by Edgar Snyder

Drive Safe, Drive Distraction-Free

a driver distracted by a cell phone, eating, and drinking

Vehicle technology is constantly evolving. It's hard to believe that there are cars we can plug in and cars that can park themselves. I think it's great that manufacturers are trying to make vehicles more efficient and safer, but unfortunately, some new functions aren't as safe as they intended them to be.

With more and more states prohibiting cell phone use while driving, vehicle manufacturers have created in-car voice call commands and voice-to-text features as a hand-held cell phone alternative. But, these features may be too distracting for you to drive safely.

A recent study tested drivers for their level of distraction while completing a variety of tasks in three different settings, including driving in a residential neighborhood. They found that talking to a passenger was more distracting than listening to an audio-book, and that hands-free phones were only slightly less distracting than hand-held phones. Surprisingly, the study found that the most distracting activity was the function that was supposed to be the least distracting: voice command phone use. In fact, the level of distraction sometimes went up to a level comparable to drunk driving.

While this doesn't make it excusable to revert back to hands-free or hand-held phone use while driving, it really makes a point that all we should be doing while we drive is, well, driving. Neurologists have found that when you multi-task, it's impossible to perform any task as well as you would if you weren't dividing your attention.

Our law firm knows exactly what can happen if you drive while distracted. We've seen families lose loved ones and lives ruined from car accidents all because a driver "had" to send a text, grab something from the backseat, or change the music. Distracted driving is dangerous, and every time you give your attention to something other than the road, you and others can be hurt, or worse.

There are a lot of distractions that compete for your attention while you're driving: cell phones, music, scenery, accident scenes, looking for something in your car, eating, and even kids and pets. Here are a couple tips for reducing distractions while you drive:

  • Cell phone use is always dangerous. Never make a call, send a text, send an e-mail, or search the web while you drive. If it's an emergency, safely pull to the right side of the road before using your phone.
  • Always keep your kids (and pets, too!) safely and properly secured in a back seat.
  • Never dig in a purse or middle console for something. You're driving, so you really shouldn't need anything!
  • Don't engage in any other activity, even if it requires you to take your eyes off the road only momentarily, like eating or changing the radio. If you're traveling long distances, take turns with passengers so you all have a chance to eat and rest. Remember that drowsy driving can be just as dangerous as drunk driving and distracted driving.
"Voice-based devices can have hand in driver distraction." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. June 13, 2013.
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