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Hands free cellular devices and the presence of cognitive distraction

Although hands free devices are legal to use in Connecticut, studies show these cellular devices can be a dangerous form of cognitive distraction.

In this day and age of cellular technology, many people are attached to their cellphones. More than 64 percent of American adults own a smart phone, allowing them to search the web, watch videos, play games, post on social media, check email and compose texts, according to the Pew Research Center. Unfortunately, many Connecticut motorists choose to engage in these cellular activities while they are driving. Not only are distracted drivers putting their own life in danger, they are risking the lives of everyone else on the road.

Approximately 3,154 people were killed in distracted driving car accidents nationwide in 2013. In an attempt to reduce this high rate of car accident fatalities, many states, including Connecticut, have enacted legislation banning the use of cellphones while driving. In Connecticut, anyone found talking or texting on a hand-held cellular device while driving may be pulled over and cited by state law enforcement officers. Bus drivers and novice drivers are restricted from using any type of cellphone, including hands free devices, while behind the wheel, according to Distraction.gov.

The dangers of hands free cellphones

Despite the ban on hand-held cellular devices while driving, the majority of drivers are still able to talk on a hands free device. Many motorists in Connecticut turn to hands free cellphones in order to continue their business while staying in compliance with the state law. The implied notion that hands free devices are safe to use while driving is discredited by several studies.

About cognitive distraction

Hands free cellphones are a significant form of cognitive distraction. The National Safety Council reviewed over 30 studies conducted on cognitive distraction and cellphones, and concluded that hands free cellphones are extremely dangerous to use while driving. Unlike hand-held cellphones, hands free devices allow the driver to use both hands to grip the steering wheel. Many work off voice command, and therefore do not require drivers to take their eyes off of the road to dial. Hands free cellphones do, however, distract the driver's ability to concentrate on the road ahead.

The NSC found that the human brain is unable to engage in two complex tasks, such as maintaining a conversation and driving, at the same time. Rather than complete both tasks, the brain switches back and forth from one task to the other. While the brain is engaged in conversation, the driver is unable to see what is going on in his or her driving environment. Drivers who are cognitively distracted have a decreased reaction time to certain hazards, including other drivers' erratic behavior, an object or pedestrian in the road and bad weather conditions. This may result in catastrophic car accidents, injuries and even death.

Getting legal assistance for your case

People who have been injured in a distracted driving car accident may suffer from serious injuries, emotional trauma and property damage. Some people may be unable to return to work while they are healing from their injuries. A personal injury attorney in Connecticut may be helpful in organizing a case that will get you the maximum amount of compensation for your injuries, pain and suffering.

Keywords: distracted, driving, accident, texting

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*AV Preeminent and BV Distinguished are certification marks of Reed Elsevier Properties Inc., used in accordance with the Martindale-Hubbell certification procedures, standards and policies. Martindale-Hubbell is the facilitator of a peer review rating process. Ratings reflect the confidential opinions of members of the Bar and the judiciary. Martindale-Hubbell ratings fall into two categories - legal ability and general ethical standards.

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