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Is it safe to use hands-free devices while driving?

The dangers of using a cell phone while driving, especially for texting, are widely known. However, many people are less aware that hands-free phone use is not the safest option either. Although using Bluetooth or similar technology allows drivers to talk on the phone or send texts while keeping their hands on the wheel, it does not eliminate one serious element of distraction.

Types of distraction

There are two basic types of distractions for drivers. The first is the physical kind, where instead of having both hands on the wheel, the motorist is holding a phone, eating, applying makeup or trying to pick up objects from the floor. The other, arguably even more serious, kind of distraction is purely mental. Drivers can assume a completely correct posture, with both hands on the wheel and looking at the road, but if their mind is not focused, the likelihood of an accident increases greatly.

The role of phone use

Failing to pay attention to the road can cause a driver to miss warning signs of road hazards. These may include weather conditions, poor visibility, vehicles ahead beginning to slow down or objects in the road. Talking on the phone is typically a powerful distraction that causes drivers to pay more attention to their conversation than to the road.

Studies on distracted driving have shown that phone use increases accidents, as drivers missed traffic signs and lights, failed to apply their brakes in time and did not react adequately to avoid hazards. The research showed no difference in these incidents between drivers who held their phones and those who used hands-free devices, suggesting that mental distraction played a major role.

Legal is not the same thing as safe

While some states prohibit the use of hands-free devices, Colorado is not among them. In Colorado, only drivers below the age of 18 are forbidden to use phones (even with hands-free tech). However, just because it is not illegal to use your phone does not mean it is the smart option. Failing to pay attention due to being on the phone can still count as negligent driving.

If you are involved in a car accident caused by distracted driving, do not assume that you have no recourse if the driver at fault did not commit a crime. All drivers have an obligation to drive with care and avoid mental distractions, especially a type that is widely known to cause accidents. Consult an experienced attorney near you to learn about your options for recovery.

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