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A case for why you should stow your smartphone while driving

A report by the Pew Research Center shows that, as of 2015, an estimated 64 percent of U.S. adults owned a smartphone. This figure is a significant jump from the reported 35 percent of U.S. adults who owned smartphones in 2011 and, in the coming years, is only expected to increase.

Gone are the days when a cellphone was simply for talking or texting on. Results from the same Pew report show that today a significant percentage of U.S. adults regularly use their smartphones to conduct online banking, apply for jobs and complete school and work assignments. While there's no denying the multiple uses and general utility of smartphones, there are times when using such a device can be downright dangerous.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that, during 2013 alone, more than 3,100 people died in traffic accidents caused by distracted drivers—many of whom were likely using a cellphone or smartphone. In an effort to discourage drivers from using smartphones while behind the wheel, many car manufactures have introduced hands-free technology systems.

Utilizing voice-activated technology, hands-free systems are marketed as a safe option for drivers who still want to check their email or search the Internet while driving. However, the results of a study from the American Automobile Association indicates that such technology may in fact be just as, if not more, distracting to drivers.

The 2015 study found that drivers who interact with hands-free technology continue to be mentally distracted for "up to 27 seconds after using voice commands." During this time of mental distraction, a driver could easily fail to see a child who is crossing the street or notice that the car ahead has slowed for a stoplight.

For the study, drivers were asked to test hands-free technology systems in various makes and models and then complete a survey. Additionally, researchers took into account the results of several other tasks that drivers were asked to complete to determine their level of distraction. While some hands-free systems appeared to be less distracting than others, researchers noted that mental distraction was universal and negatively impacted a driver's ability to concentrate and focus on driving.

Individuals who have been injured in an accident in which distracted driving is believed to be a factor, can often benefit from the advice and assistance of an attorney.

Source:, "Even After Hanging Up, Hands-Free Isn't Risk-Free For Distracted Drivers," Kyle Mohr, Oct. 23, 2015

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