Aaron & Aaron, Attorneys at Law
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Is there a safe way to drive while distracted?

Drivers distracted by their phones are a threat to every motorist, bicyclist and pedestrian sharing the road with them, and just about every motorist recognizes the dangers of distracted driving.

Sadly, people still drive while distracted by their phones, oftentimes assuming they can do so safely. But make no mistake about it: There is no safe way to drive while distracted. In fact, three solutions aimed at preventing distracted driving or attempting to make it safer fall short of those goals. In some cases, they actually make drivers even more distracted. 

Hands-free phones

Mounting your phone on the dashboard or connecting it through Bluetooth might seem like effective ways to keep a person’s hands off the phone and their eyes on the road.

However, hands-free devices still demand considerable cognitive effort. This means a driver still has his or her attention on something other than driving, whether that’s repeating voice commands, having conversations or trying to change the settings to connect the phone properly.

Infotainment systems

These systems were intended to put everything a driver "needs" while driving within arm’s reach, making it unnecessary to use a phone. However, many of the systems are poorly designed and difficult to navigate.

In fact, this AAA Foundation study shows that of 30 infotainment systems tested, none of them resulted in placing a low demand on a driver’s attention. Twenty-three of them generated high or very high demand. In other words, the systems carmakers are using to keep drivers safe could be making them more dangerous.

Legal bans on using a phone while driving

States including South Carolina ban texting while driving. Many states also ban any use of a hand-held phone driving. However, while these bans are important, they are difficult to enforce. They also give drivers a false sense of safety when they use hands-free devices, which, as we explained above, can still be distracting.

What we hope people take away from this post is the understanding that there is no safe way to drive while distracted. People who have their hands off the wheel, their eyes off the road and/or their attentions away from the task of driving put others in danger of being hurt or killed in a crash. Under these circumstances, distracted drivers can and should be held liable for the damages they cause.

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