Study suggests the dangers of cognitive distraction for CT drivers

Hands free cellphones can contribute to driver distraction, which may lead to serious car accidents, injuries and even death.

Drivers in Connecticut are subject to several cellphone laws, banning them from using a hand-held cellphone to talk or text while behind the wheel. In addition, bus drivers and novice drivers are prohibited from talking on a hands free device as well. Currently, there are no states in the nation that ban the use of hands free cellphones from any driver. These cellphones, along with voice-activated technology, can act as a serious distraction for drivers, and some believe that they should also be illegal to use while driving.

Hands free devices and cognitive distraction

There are three main types of distractions, including manual, visual and cognitive distraction. Manual distractions involve tasks that require drivers to remove their hands from the steering wheel, while visual distractions tempt drivers to take their eyes off of the road. Cognitive distractions, on the other hand, remove a driver's focus off of driving.

Although hands free cellphones do not require use of the drivers hands and/or eyes, they do keep the driver from fully concentrating on the road. While this inattention may seem rather harmless, a study published by AAA showed that the distractions caused by hands free cellphones can be significant. In some cases, this distraction can contribute to a car accident resulting in serious injuries and even death.

Distraction study

During the study, researchers measured the level of distraction that drivers experienced when engaging in various tasks. The participants were asked to operate a vehicle while talking to passengers in the car, talking on a hand-held device, listening to the radio, listening to an audio book, carrying on a conversation using a hands free cellphone and writing an email using voice-activated technology. Researchers measured each participant's mental workload, response time, heart rate and brain activity. While using the voice-activated technology proved to be the most distracting task for drivers, the study showed that using a hands free device was also considerably distracting.

When drivers speak on a cellphone, they are less likely to respond to certain stimuli, including traffic signals, pedestrians, bikers, objects in the road, other drivers' behavior, construction zones and bad weather conditions. The National Safety Council indicated that when the brain is concentrating on a complex task, such as participating in a conversation, it cannot effectively focus on another complex activity, like driving.

Dealing with the aftermath of an accident

Once you have been involved in a serious car accident caused by a careless driver, you may feel overwhelmed. A personal injury attorney in Connecticut may help you through the legal process and answer any questions you may have regarding the specific circumstances of your case.