What is it about Americans and our love of multitasking? Take driving, for example. Despite the inherent dangers that require us to pay close attention, far too many people engage in other activities while driving: eating, smoking, applying makeup, looking at our GPS systems, tuning the radio, using an app as part of their job, and of course talking on the phone.
Plenty of people who use their cell phones while driving feel that they do so safely, often citing the fact that they use a hands-free device. But is that really safer than using the actual cell phone itself? Join me for a closer look into this controversial claim.
What Does “Hands-Free” Really Mean?
It's clear that hands-on use of a cell phone is dangerous. Anytime drivers take their eyes off the road while driving, they are courting danger. That means scrolling, typing on a phone's keyboard, reading information, or looking at a map are all major distractions that could lead to vehicle accidents.
Using a hands-free device refers to using headphones or earpieces, putting a call on speakerphone, or using an in-vehicle voice-activated system. And these methods of connecting first to a cell phone and then to the person on the other end of the call are certainly easier and more convenient than navigating to the phone app, thumbing through one's contact list, selecting an entry, etc.
But is it safer?
Safer, But Not Safe
Hands-free phone operation is safer, but that does not mean it's safe. The problem lies in humans' inability to multitask; giving more than one activity our full attention is impossible. Not every activity requires a person's full attention, however, and that's where the myth of multitasking comes from. An individual can put together a sandwich while listening to their husband describe the plot of a movie or go for a walk while talking on the phone. But operating a motor vehicle is one activity that requires the driver's full attention—full stop.
When attention is divided, safety suffers. And the consequences are never greater than when the person behind the wheel is dividing their attention. So, while using a hands-free device is preferable to holding the device while using it, it's best to put the phone down entirely until the trip is complete. That's why so many states are making even using hands-free devices against the law.
Get Help From an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
Have you been in an accident, and was a hands-free device involved? Call me, Paul Schneiderman, at (206) 464-1952, and let's talk about what happened and what recourse you might have.