Archive for April, 2014

Buffalo Traffic Accidents & Hands-Free Cell Phone Risks

15
Apr 2014
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Many drivers try to do the right thing by using a hands-free system when they use their phones in the car. Hands-free control makes it possible for people to talk on the phone, but also to text, read or send emails and do other tasks on electronic devices.

Unfortunately, the reality is that you aren’t any safer using a hands-free device than you would be using a cell phone and holding it. You still take your focus off the road, which makes you more likely to cause a motor vehicle collision. You could hurt yourself or others and be held legally responsible for injuries. Texting accident driving attorneys in Buffalo can help those injured by distracted drivers.

Hands-Free Systems Still Can be Dangerous

According to Cars.com, 80 percent of drivers surveyed across the United States said that they believed that it was safer to use a hands-free phone system than to use a handheld phone system while driving. Around 70 percent of motorists who currently use hands-free systems said that they do so because of safety concerns.

These hands-free systems may be making things worse because drivers assume they aren’t at risk and are more comfortable spending a longer time on the phone. This problem is made worse because state laws lend support to this idea. As USA Today reports, there are total bans on using handheld devices in 12 states and there are bans on texting in 43 states. There are not any bans anywhere on the use of hands-free devices, so drivers just naturally assume that they are OK to be on the phone.

These drivers don’t realize that the center of their brain devoted to seeing visual activities is 1/3 less active when there are using their hands-free kit. As the National Safety Council (NSC) shows, the brain can’t multitask but is forced to switch back and forth between the phone use and the focus on what’s going on in the car. The brain doesn’t do this really effectively and around 50 percent of the visual information you should see outside your windshield is missed.

The result is that motorists on hands-free kits are just as likely, if not more likely, to crash. Recent studies have suggested that a person using voice-to-text is more distracted than someone who is texting using the handheld phone. Voice-to-text can also take longer to complete than just sending a regular text, so drivers are less focused on the road and are distracted for a longer time.

Around nine percent of drivers on the road at any given time are using a hands-free device, and these drivers are responsible for a lot of accidents. In total, there were 3,327 driving deaths because of distracted driving in 2012 and around 26 percent of the total number of motor vehicle collisions nationwide involved a driver on a phone.  

Most safety experts believe the best way to solve this is a total ban on all phone use, including with a hands-free device. Until the law changes, though, drivers will just have to police themselves and make the commitment to turn their phones off or keep them out of reach in the car.

Contact a Buffalo accident attorney at the Law Offices of James Morris at 1-800-477-9044.  Attorney advertising.

Distraction a Common Factor in Buffalo Collisions as New York Weighs Options

States including New York are considering regulation of a device called Google Glass, which looks like a pair of glasses and allows users to surf the Internet, take photographs, check-email and even watch videos – all with a blink.

The technology is pretty amazing – but perhaps not so much while driving. State lawmakers have requested direction from the department of motor vehicles on how a behind-the-wheel ban on the devices might be enforced.

Buffalo accident lawyers at The Law Offices of James Morris recognize that as it stands, distracted driving is a major factor in automobile collisions.

How many accidents are caused by distracted drivers?

The issue of driver distraction may be even more serious than previously anticipated. New research indicates that many crashes caused by distraction are instead categorized simply as “careless driving” in traffic citation records.

There may be some instances wherein drivers are cited for prohibited use of a handheld device (New York state bans texting and the use of all handheld cell phone devices while driving), more often than not, distraction can be difficult to prove.

For one thing, it’s not like drunk driving, where a test can determine whether drivers were negligent at the time of a crash. Phone records, witness statements and other evidence may be used to piece it together, but there is often no definitive determination.

Plus, there are more forms of distraction today than ever.

Let’s start with cell phones. In May of 2011, 35 percent of Americans owned a smartphone. By May 2013, 56 percent of people owned a smartphone.

Then there are devices like Google Glass. While it offers features like navigation, these elements have proven distracting to the person behind the wheel. But again, it can be tough to prove. A woman in California was pulled over and cited by a state trooper for “having a TV screen visible while driving.” Some 37 states and the District of Columbia have laws against it. However, the ticket was eventually tossed because there was a lack of evidence to prove the device had been enabled while she was driving.

Studies shed light on dangers of in-dash vehicle technology

More than ever, technological devices are coming standard-issue with the latest models of vehicles in the form of “infotainment” centers build right into the dash. Common features include GPS mapping technology, hands-free dialing and speech-to-text, Internet searches and even videos and games.

While car manufacturers have promised that these systems are safe and will actually help to reduce distractions, the research that is emerging suggests those assertions fall short of the truth.

For example, a recent AAA study indicates that speech-to-text phone or e-mail systems, the kind that are common in the latest infotainment offerings, are even more dangerous than listening to the radio or using a handheld cell phone.

Where companies are working on ways to integrate even more speech recognition software into vehicles, AAA warns that this will make the roads inherently more dangerous.

Anytime your hands are off the wheel or your eyes and attention are off the road, there is a danger. It need not be technologically-driven. Distraction comes in many different forms, be it your children in the back seat, the pets in your lap or the Google Glass on your head.

For the most part, whatever it is can wait until the car is in park.

Contact a Buffalo accident attorney at the Law Offices of James Morris at 1-800-477-9044.  Attorney advertising.