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Recent AAA survey: hands-free texting still not safe enough

A recent survey performed by researchers at the University of Utah on behalf of the American Automobile Association (AAA) found that hands-free text message composition is no safer for drivers than typing them in by hand. The study was an admittedly small sample size of student volunteers at the university, but data gathered by the research team – including recorded video, brain activity scans, reaction times and more – was compelling: it is just as distracting to dictate text messages aloud for your wireless device to transcribe as it is to physically enter the characters on the phone yourself.

The study also delved more in to the science behind good driving, providing insight into the three main components of the kind of safe vehicle operation that limits the chances of being involved in a distracted driving-related car accident.

  • Hands on the wheel – required at all times while the vehicle is in motion
  • Eyes on the road – even momentary glimpses at a cell phone, map, book, computer, GPS device or other distraction can make a difference
  • Having the mind focused on the act of driving instead of performing other mentally challenging tasks like composing texts or business emails

What does this study mean?

Since the AAA is not a legislative agency, the results of the study will likely not have an immediate impact in California or elsewhere in the country. The AAA is a powerful lobbying force, though, holding sway over insurance companies and being a trusted source of accurate traffic-related data, so it is entirely possible that these results will spark interest in new, stricter laws governing the behind-the-wheel use of wireless devices.

California’s cellphone use laws

California already has strict laws regulating both handheld and hands-free cellphone use while driving, completely outlawing the non-emergency use of handheld devices back in 2008, and severely restricting the use of hands-free ones that same year (limiting their use to only experienced drivers over the age of 18). California has also had an anti-texting measure in place since 2009.

Some people feel that those laws are not offering enough protection against distracted driving, though. Even with fairly comprehensive laws on the books for years now, a Fresno judge recently ruled that the use of GPS apps on wireless phones is also prohibited behind the wheel locally, which has led legal experts and pundits to wonder about the true scope of the wireless laws. This AAA study will likely stir the proverbial pot, inspiring people on both sides of the cellphone use debate.

Have you or a loved one been injured by a distracted driver (whether he or she was on a cellphone, texting, checking email, eating, reading a map, updating social networks or was otherwise not focused on the road)? Want to learn more about legal options to hold that driver accountable for your injuries? Speak with an experienced California personal injury attorney in your area today.

Our founding attorney, Scott J. Corwin, has more than 25 years of experience in representing accident victims injured in all forms of motor vehicle accidents, whether by a negligent driver texting or using his cell phone or otherwise, for automobile, motorcycle, truck, pedestrian and bicycle accidents, in the Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside, Orange, San Diego, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties and throughout the state of California.

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