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Hands-Free Just as Dangerous as Hand-Held Cell Phones in Distraction-Related Car Accidents in Riviera and Elsewhere

As we recently reported on our South Florida Injury Lawyers Blog, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is putting its best efforts forward to propose a nationwide ban on the use of all portable electronic devices for drivers across the country — including hands-free devices. Earlier this month, the NTSB made a recommendation for all local and state governments to prohibit this behavior to help reduce the risks of distraction-related car accidents.

States have enacted some laws to stop driver distraction, but no state has completely prohibited the use of all electronic devices — including hands free. Some lawmakers say that this type of law is a form of government intrusion, while others feel it’s an invasion of personal freedoms, according to CNN.

Our Riviera car accident lawyers understand that recent studies from the National Safety Council (NSC) prove that hands-free phones are just as much of a distraction as hand-held phones are. Still, no state has enacted a law to prohibit this behavior. Maybe legislators are taking the problem too lightly. According to Barbara Harsha with the Governors Highway Safety Association, lawmakers can’t expect these laws to start producing safer results right away. Once they’re enacted, it takes time to enforce them and an even longer time for drivers to start changing their behavior behind the wheel. Still, lawmakers need to take that first step to help get us on the right path to safer roads.

The truth of the matter is that hands-free cell phone use is just as dangerous as a drivers talking on a hand-held phone. According to the NSC, the use of cell phones, hand-held or hands-free, causes drivers to “look at” and not “see” the roadway. Many legislators would argue that hands-free cell phones pose less of a distraction that hand-held. That’s not true. Drivers don’t multitask well. Drivers are unable to focus the same amount of attention on driving when talking on a cell phone as they are when they’re just driving alone.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 10 percent of drivers are using a cell phone at the wheel at any given moment. The NHTSA’s studies also concluded that about a quarter of all car accidents involve a driver using a cell phone at the time of the collision.

The problem with current distraction-related laws:

-Almost all legislation addresses the banning of only hand-held phone or of text messaging devices. None focus on the use of hands-free devices.

-Every state’s distraction-related driving laws allow the use of hands-free device by drivers. The same is true for employer policies.

-Recent polls conclude that driver recognize and understand the risks associated with hand-held cell phone use and text messaging devices usage, but not for hands-free devices.

-Many drivers think that they’re safer using a hands-free phone at the wheel than a hand-held phone.

“If it shows both are unsafe, then a total ban may make the most sense,” said Harsha.

If you need advisement because you or someone you love has been involved in a distraction-related car accident in Riviera, Vero Beach, Hollywood, Sunrise, St. Lucie or in any of the surrounding areas, contact a personal injury lawyer at Freeman, Mallard, Sharp & Gonzalez, LLC. Call 1-800-561-7777 for a free consultation with an experienced attorney today.

Additional Resources:

Call for car-phone ban likely to meet busy signal in states, by Michael Martinez and Zohreen Adamjee, CNN

More Blog Entries:

NTSB Urges Full Ban on Drivers Using Electronic Devices to Reduce Risks of Distraction-Related Car Accidents in Lauderdale Lakes, Nation, South Florida Injury Lawyers Blog, December 19, 2011

Back-Over Car Accidents in Vero and Elsewhere Can Increase During Busy Holiday Season, South Florida Injury Lawyers Blog, December 6, 2011

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