Are hands free cellphones really a safe alternative?

Illinois residents are attached to their cellphones just as much as motorists in any other part of the country. According to Distraction.gov, approximately 660,000 drivers use their cellphones to talk or text while driving at any given moment of the day. As a result, 3,154 people were killed and 424,000 people were injured in distracted driving car accidents in 2013. In an attempt to decrease the number of auto accidents that occur on the nation's roadways each year, many states have enacted laws banning motorists from using their cellphones while driving. Illinois has some of the strictest cellphones laws in the nation. Studies show, however, that it may not be enough.

Illinois cellphone laws

Not only are all drivers in the state prohibited from texting while behind the wheel, they are also banned from talking on a hand-held cellphone. Many motorists have started using hands free cellular devices in order to stay in compliance with the law. These cellphones allow drivers full use of both hands and enable them to keep their eyes on the road, unlike hand held devices. Although these devices have been marketed as a safe alternative to hand held cellphones, studies show that people who use hands free cellphones are still at risk for causing a serious car accident.

Inattention blindness and cognitive distraction

The National Safety Council reviewed over 30 studies conducted on cognitive distraction and driving. They found that cognitive distractions, or tasks that take motorists' focus and concentration off of driving, can decrease their ability to respond to certain driving hazards. For example, a driver who is engaged in a conversation on a hands free device may be less likely to stop at a traffic signal, pedestrian crossing or avoid an object in the road.

Although drivers may feel as though they are able to multi-task, researchers have shown that people cannot effectively complete two tasks at the same time. Rather than focus on both tasks, like maintaining a conversation and driving, the brain switches back and forth between the two tasks. While the mind is focused on the conversation, it is not paying attention to the road ahead. Drivers who are cognitively distracted are more likely to cause auto accidents, serious injuries and even death to innocent people.

Getting legal help

Distracted driving accidents can result in catastrophic injuries, including traumatic brain injury, spinal cord damage, broken bones, amputations and even paralysis. If you or someone you know is struggling with injuries from a car accident caused by a distracted driver, you may want to speak to an attorney in Illinois who is familiar with these types of cases.