Law Office of Michael R. De La Paz

HANDS-FREE CELLPHONES AND COGNITIVE DISTRACTION

Although drivers in Texas are able to legally use a hand-held cellphone while behind the wheel, statistics show the dangers of engaging in this deadly practice. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,450 people were killed in distracted driving crashes in 2016 alone. The number of people injured and killed in these types of tragedies continues to increase as people cannot put their cellphones down while driving. Some people use hands-free cellular devices as a safe alternative to hand-held cellphones. Yet, studies show that even these cellphones can lead to devastating crashes.

In a study released by AAA, researchers measured the amount of cognitive distraction drivers experience when they engage in different tasks and attempt to drive at the same time. Researchers looked at drivers' eye movement, heart rate, response time and brain activity to evaluate how distracted they were when accomplishing the following tasks:

  •          Composing an email using voice-activated technology
  •          Maintaining a conversation using a hand-held and hands-free cellphone
  •          Holding a conversation with a passenger in the vehicle
  •          Listening to the radio
  •          Listening to an audio book

The results showed that when drivers held a conversation with someone using a hands-free cellphone, the distraction was only slightly less than when using a hand-held cellphone.

The National Safety Council reports that the human brain is unable to fully concentrate on two complex tasks at the same time. Rather, the focus jumps back and forth between the two tasks. This leaves moments in time when the brain is not focused on the road at all and increases the risk of a car crash.

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