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Hands-free phones lead drivers to other distractions

Pennsylvania residents would be right to think that hands-free phone use is safer for drivers than handheld phone use. In fact, most states ban the latter for all drivers. However, one study has shown that hands-free phone use has the unintended effect of opening drivers up to other distracting behavior.

Lytx, a provider of video telematics and safety solutions for fleets, has analyzed 100,000 risky driving events that its video technology has captured among those fleets. One positive finding was that in 2018, there was a 27% increase in hands-free phone use. Sixty-five percent of all phone use in that year was hands-free. However, Lytx saw a 10% increase in the number of drivers who, while using hands-free phones, engaged in other distracting actions.

These actions included eating, drinking, smoking (distracting because it occupies the hands and mouth) and using another device. Drivers using hands-free phones would often follow too closely to the vehicle in front, speed, make sudden stops and neglect their seatbelt.

In all, 23% of the risky driving events studied involved a driver distracted by multiple things. Phone use was most common at 65 mph. One reason is that Lytx sets the speed limiter on its trucks to 65 mph. Another is that many turn on cruise control at this speed and become too comfortable.

Drivers are supposed to keep control of their vehicle at all times. Hands-free phones, though they may not pose a manual or visual distraction, are still a cognitive distraction. When motor vehicle accidents arise out of one or more of these types of distractions, those on the other side who have suffered an injury may seek compensation. If successful, their claim might cover medical expenses, vehicle repairs or replacement and lost wages. Having a lawyer may be of benefit.

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