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Do Hands-Free Electronics Raise or Lower the Risk of a Car Crash?

Posted on behalf of RizkLaw on May 16, 2019 in Auto Accident

driving with hands-free phoneThere has been a lot of concern in recent years over distracted driving, as so many people have cellphones and distracted driving crashes have increased. These accidents have helped popularize hands-free apps for smartphones and car navigation systems to allow users to continue using their phones and other devices without taking their hands off the wheel. The thought is this will help lower the risk of accidents.

However, is this really true? It depends on what research you look at. Below, review how hands-free technology impacts driving safety. If you were injured in a car accident involving a distracted driver, contact our auto accident lawyers in Portland today to schedule a free, no obligation consultation and learn more about your legal rights.

Notable Research on Hands-Free Technology and Driving

As hands-free technology continues to grow in popularity, multiple studies have been conducted into whether or not it can actually help lower the risk of car accidents compared to handheld devices.

Researchers at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) studied how crash risk could be impacted by mental distractions that pull the mind’s attention from driving, but do not require the driver to take his or her eyes or hands away from the task of driving. The study utilized data from videos and sensors obtained from the Second Strategic Highway Research Program’s naturalistic driving study.

VTTI’s research shows that, in some cases, using a hands-free cellphone was associated with a lower risk of an accident. Researchers studied video of 3,454 drivers and 905 crashes, including 275 crashes considered serious, and none of those serious crashes that caused injuries and serious property damage were associated with drivers using hands-free technology.

However, another study by the University of Sussex in England revealed that even talking on a hands-free device requires you to use many of the same brain processing resources needed to drive. Talking while driving actually caused participants in the study to detect fewer hazards on the roadway.

A 2006 University of Utah study found that intoxicated adult drivers have the same level of impairment as drivers talking on handheld or hands-free cellphones. Drivers distracted by cellphones, whether handheld or hands-free, were slower to hit the brakes and were slower to get back to normal speed after braking.

How Hands-Free Devices May Still Be Distracting

The National Safety Council warns that the use of hands-free devices while driving still creates a distraction. Talking on or listening to a phone call limits the brain’s processing abilities, decreasing a driver’s ability to comprehend moving images.

As hands-free technology has been promoted as a way to improve safety and lower the distracted driving risks associated with cellphone use, drivers have felt a false sense of safety with this technology.

Oregon Laws on Hands-Free Devices While Driving

Under Oregon law, it is illegal to operate a vehicle while holding or using an electronic device, such as a cellphone, GPS device, tablet or laptop. 

However, hands-free devices or functions are an exception to this law, provided the driver is at least 18 years of age. Drivers are also allowed to activate or deactivate devices if they can do so with a single swipe or touch. Drivers can also call for medical help if there is no one else available to make the call.

Last year, Oregon increased fines for holding or using an electronic device:

  • A first offense that does not contribute to an accident is a Class B violation that carries up to a $1,000 fine.
  • A second offense or first offense that contributes to an accident is a Class A violation that carries up to a $2,000 fine.
  • A driver’s third offense in a 10-year period is a Class B misdemeanor that carries up to a $2,500 fine as well as up to six months of jail time.

Contact Our Reputable Lawyers for Assistance

If you were injured in a car accident caused by a distracted driver, this individual or his or her insurance company may be financially responsible to provide compensation for your medical bills and other damages. Our car accident lawyers can discuss the crash in a free consultation and possibly help you fight for maximum compensation.

Schedule a free consultation right away so you can learn about possible legal options for pursuing compensation. We do not charge you up front for representing you. Payment is not due unless you are awarded compensation.

Call now for a FREE case evaluation!