Studies show cognitive distraction significant with hands-free devices

Studies show that hands-free cellphones may be just as distracting as hand-held cellular devices.

Distracted driving continues to cause problems for people in Texas and across the United States. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,477 people died and 391,000 people were injured in distracted driving accidents in 2015 alone. People who take their focus off the road and engage in other activities while behind the wheel, ultimately put their lives and the lives of others in danger.

Although Texas does not currently have a law prohibiting drivers from using hand-held devices, many people have started using hands-free cellphones as a way to limit their distraction and keep them from becoming involved in a car accident. Studies show, however, that even hands-free devices cause a significant amount of distraction to drivers and motorists should limit their use if at all possible.

A look at the study

Researchers wanted to evaluate the amount of cognitive distraction that drivers experience while operating hands-free cellular devices in comparison to other distractive activities. Participants were asked to drive a simulator vehicle, as well as an actual car equipped with monitoring devices. As drivers followed the course, they were asked to perform certain tasks. These included the following:

· Talking on a hand-held cellphone.

· Maintaining a conversation on a hands-free cellphone.

· Talking to a passenger in the vehicle.

· Listening to the radio.

· Listening to an audio book.

· Performing certain activities using a voice-activated device.

Researchers measured participants' heart rate, brain activity, eye movement and response time as they completed the exercise.

The results

Surprisingly, the results showed that talking on a hands-free cellphone was only slightly less distracting than talking on a hand-held cellphone. While hands-free devices eliminate the visual and manual distractions that hand-held cellphones present, they still act as a significant source of cognitive distraction. Listening to the radio was the least distracting, while the most distracting task involved using the voice-activated device.

What is cognitive distraction?

Cognitive distraction occurs when people take their mind off the road and concentrate on something else, such as maintaining a conversation. According to the National Safety Council, the brain cannot engage in two complex activities as the same time. Instead, it skips back and forth from one task to the other. This leaves moments in time where the brain is not focused on the road at all.

Picking up the pieces

A serious car accident may cause devastating injuries, which can affect peoples' lives in many ways. People who make poor choices while driving should be held responsible for their mistakes. A personal injury attorney in Texas may help you pick up the pieces of your life following a catastrophic motor vehicle accident.