Hands-free cellphones and cognitive distraction

A study shows that using a hands-free cellphone while driving is not much safer than a hand-held device.

Distracted driving continues to kill and injure thousands of people in Mississippi and across the nation. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,477 people were killed in distracted driving accidents in 2015, and 391,000 people were injured. Cellphone use while driving plays a major role in these deaths. As a way to minimize the number of people killed in these types of accidents each year, some states have banned the use of hand-held cellphones while driving. This has led more and more drivers to use hands-free cellular devices while behind the wheel in order to stay in compliance with the law and lessen distraction. Studies show, however, that these hands-free cellphones may not be as safe as some people may think, and may actually cause distracted driving accidents as well.

A look at the study

A study published by AAA, looked directly at cognitive distraction and other possible distractions caused by use of hands-free cellphones while driving. Researchers asked study participants to drive a simulator vehicle, as well as a motor vehicle equipped with monitoring devices while engaging in several distractive activities to measure cognitive distraction. These tasks included the following:

· Talking with a passenger in the vehicle.

· Speaking with someone using a hand-held device.

· Maintaining a conversation using a hands-free cellphone.

· Complete a task using voice-activated technology.

· Listening to the radio.

· Listening to an audio book.

As drivers engaged in these tasks, researchers measured their heart rate, eye movement, brain activity and response time.

The results are revealed

While researchers expected less distraction when motorists used the hands-free device when compared to the hand-held cellphones, they were surprised to see the amount of cognitive distraction that the hands-free devices created. Although there was a slightly less amount of cognitive distraction with the hands-free cellphones, the amount of distraction was significant, and could contribute to a car accident. Listening to the radio was least distracting, and the most distracting task involved use of the voice-activated technology.

Uncovering cognitive distraction

What is cognitive distraction? When the brain is engaging in two complex tasks at the same time, it is difficult for a person to concentrate on both activities simultaneously. In fact, the National Safety Council revealed that the human brain cannot focus on two things at once. Instead, it bounces back and forth from one task to the other, leaving moments in time where a person isn't focusing on one task at all.

Getting legal assistance

People who have been seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident may want to speak with a personal injury attorney in Mississippi. A lawyer may be helpful in building a strong case and getting you the compensation you deserve for your pain and suffering.