Hands-free Tech Drives Distractions

September 2020

Hands-free Tech Drives Distractions

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were an estimated 400,000 people injured in crashes involving distracted drivers in 2018. Increasing evidence that shows the dangers associated with using cell phones, and hands-free devices, outweigh those of other distractions. Reading just one text takes a driver’s eyes off the road for approximately five seconds. If moving at 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of an entire football field – blindfolded.

Many have questioned the validity of hands-free devices in curbing distraction, wondering if they contribute to attention deficits behind the wheel. While there is limited research on the topic today, we found a few studies that offer some insight.

Is hands-free technology distracting to drivers?
Here’s what the experts say:

  • Yes, according to the National Safety Council. They report that the brain remains distracted 27 seconds after a driver issues a voice command to in-vehicle technology and drivers talking on the phone – handheld or hands-free – increase their risk of injury and property damage crashes fourfold.
  • Yes, according to research by a cognitive distraction expert at the University of Utah. This research team found that as mental workload and distractions increased, drivers reacted more slowly, scanned the road less and missed visual clues.

No matter the risk of hands-free devices, employers should address all driving distractions through awareness, training and a formal company policy. For help designing a distracted driving policy, check out the National Safety Council Safe Driving Toolkit,  National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website or United Heartland Resource Library.

For more information, contact your dedicated United Heartland Loss Control representative to discuss available resources.

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