11:18 AM

Just drive: April is distracted driving awareness month


Even hands-free technology isn’t risk free while driving.

Would it surprise you to learn that new studies show using voice-to-text is more distracting behind the wheel than typing texts by hand? According to the National Safety Council (NSC) distractions are a top factor in fatal automobile crashes, with thousands of those involving drivers using mobile devices including hands-free technology. The latest statistics show motor vehicle fatalities are up six percent from 2015.

April is distracted driving awareness month, when there is renewed emphasis on reminding drivers to keep their minds on the road.

Hands-free is not risk-free. Hands-free cell phone technology includes an ear piece, a speakerphone and using dashboard features that allow you to talk, text, even email, and access social media.

According to the NSC 53% of drivers believe if manufacturers put "infotainment" dashboards and hands-free technology in vehicles, they must be safe. And, with some state laws focusing on handheld bans, many drivers honestly believe they are making the safe choice by using a hands-free device.

In fact, in a survey by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about 50% of drivers polled believed talking on a cell phone while driving makes no difference on their performance but texting or emailing does. This stat increases with younger drivers with 60% of drivers under age 35 thinking it makes no difference.

Consider this information from the National Safety Council about multi-tasking before jumping on a call or texting someone when you are behind the wheel:

  • Brain activity decreases by up to 1/3 causing drivers to lose focus on what’s happening on the road when listening or talking on a phone while driving.

  • Drivers can miss seeing up to 50% of what’s outside the vehicle when using a mobile device.

As the number of distracted driving-related crashes have continued to rise, government agencies and other groups are responding with increased education aimed at reducing the number of people who multi-task behind the wheel.


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