Study Suggests We Might Be Talking Too Much Behind the Wheel 

Study Suggests We Might Be Talking Too Much Behind the Wheel 

Most people already know that it isn’t wise to use a cell phone while driving. However, studies show that many people are continuing to engage in this behavior even though they know it isn’t safe. Studies also show that this behavior leads to decreased driver awareness and an increased incidence of accidents.

Research on Conversation Behind the Wheel

The journal Human Factors recently published a meta-analysis that explores the effect of conversations on a driver’s ability to operate the vehicle safely and adequately. This analysis looked at the performance of drivers who are using cell phones to talk to other people, as well as those who are talking to other passengers in the vehicle. The study involved nearly 4,400 drivers in 106 different experimental situations. The drivers’ performance during conversation was compared with a baseline measure of driving performance without conversation. Some of the behaviors evaluated include driver eye movements, positions of vehicles within a lane, distance between vehicles, speed and perception of hazards on the road.

The study found that both cell phone use and conversations with passengers in the vehicle impact drivers’ abilities. Some of the most important insights from the study with regard to cell phone usage in the car are listed below.

  • Using a cell phone to talk while driving leads to slower reaction times, slower identification of hazards and less scanning of the environment.
  • Drivers who are using cell phones spend less time looking in rearview mirrors and to the left and right.
  • Drivers talking on cell phones do not drive slower or increase distance between their vehicles and others’.
  • Drivers’ awareness of the environment was diminished even when they were using a hands-free system.
  • Talking on a cell phone with or without hands-free technology increased the incidence of all types of collisions.
  • Dialing a cell phone was almost as dangerous as texting.

The study also found that engaging in conversation with passengers in the vehicle was a distraction to drivers, reducing their awareness of situations on the road. However, the severity of the distraction depended on the driver’s level of engagement in the conversation. Low-engagement conversations did not impair the driver’s abilities to focus on the road as much as conversations that were more intense or thought-provoking.

Current Laws

Texting while driving is already banned in 47 states. Using a hand-held cell phone is also prohibited in 15 states. However, certain states impose these laws only on younger and/or inexperienced drivers. Most states also hold drivers responsible for any accidents they cause while using a cell phone or when driving with any other type of distraction.

Justice for Victims

When a driver uses a cell phone or engages in conversation with passengers, he or she is more likely to cause an accident that injures people or results in property damage. If you or someone you love has been a victim in this type of accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Depending on the circumstances, you may be able to recover compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, damage to your vehicle and any other related expenses.

If you have been injured in a crash caused by distracted driving, you need to consult a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Please contact Billy Johnson today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about your legal options.

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