Since cell phones became popular, the rate of car accidents caused by distracted driving has dramatically increased. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 3,100 people died in distracted driving accidents in the United States in 2019 alone. The NHTSA also notes that it takes about five seconds to read the average text, which is a significant amount of time while operating a moving vehicle. In response to the increasing number of distracted driving accidents, states around the county have passed various laws making texting and talking on the phone while driving illegal. For example, under Illinois law, it is illegal to use any hand-held device to talk or text, and only those drivers over the age of 19 are permitted to use hands-free devices.
The use of hands-free devices has been seen as an acceptable alternative to using cell phones to talk or text. However, even hands-free technology is still a distraction. Experts agree that drivers who use their cell phones while behind the wheel pay less attention to the road and are at a greater risk of getting into an accident. Drivers who text also tend to travel at slower speeds and leave more distance between their car and the vehicle ahead of them. This is because drivers understand that their attention is not focused on the road and compensate for the distraction.
In a recent report, researchers set out to determine whether hands-free technology was safe. Researchers began with the premise that drivers will compensate for distracting behavior and wanted to know whether most drivers adequately compensated for the distractions involved with texting and driving. Ultimately, they discovered that speech-based text, while safer than traditional texting, still significantly increased the chances of an accident.
To conduct the study, researchers asked 53 participants to sit in a driving simulator. Participants were instructed to follow the car ahead of them and then use either hands-free technology or a cell phone to send a text message. The results indicated that those who used a hands-free device to send a text tried to compensate for the potential distraction by leaving an additional 0.41-second gap between their vehicle and the vehicle ahead of them. Participants using a cellphone left a slightly larger gap of 0.59 seconds. Researchers explained that the difference in the amount of time between cars relates to the perceived workload of the task the driver was asked to perform. In other words, drivers who were using a cell phone to send a text realized that this creates additional workload, removing their attention from the road for a longer period. Thus, these drivers allowed additional time between vehicles.
Despite the increased distance between the vehicles, the rate of an accident significantly increased under each scenario. Drivers using hands-free devices had a 2.34-times greater chance of crashing into the car ahead of them, and those using a cell phone had a 3.56-times greater chance of getting into a rear-end accident.
The study also revealed that the vast majority of these accidents could have been avoided if all drivers allowed for a 0.60-second increase in time between their vehicle and the lead vehicle. However, only a few drivers allowed this much time.
The study concludes that speech-based texting is safer than using a cell phone; however, most drivers fail to allow for enough space to enable them to avoid an accident in the event of a sudden slowdown, pedestrian or cyclist.
Have You Been Injured in a Distracted Driving Accident?
If you or a loved one was recently injured in a distracted driving accident, contact the Chicago car accident lawyers at Briskman Briskman & Greenberg. At Briskman Briskman & Greenberg, we have a long history of representing accident victims and their families in all types of car accident cases, including those involving collisions caused by distracted driving. We recognize that after an accident, your priorities may not be on calling a lawyer and filing a lawsuit, and we take every step possible to make the process as easy on you as possible. From the moment you bring Briskman Briskman & Greenberg on board, we will take care of everything so you can focus on your recovery. To learn more and schedule a free consultation with one of our Chicago distracted driving lawyers, give us a call at 877-595-4878 today. You can also reach us through our online form, and one of our lawyers will be in touch shortly.