Hands Free is Still Distracted Driving

We are going to admit that this blog was going to be about new hands free technology for using your phone while driving. There are many speech to text apps, Bluetooth speakers and hands free carriers that can help someone who wants to use their phone while driving. While conducting our research, we noticed how many facts point to the dangers of using these products, and the facts of distracted driving in general. Rather than promoting these products, we feel it is far more important to present this information to you.

What Distracted Driving Is

Hearing the term distracted driving, we immediately think of texting and driving. There are more ways to be distracted from the task of driving than just messing with your phone. Other ways include:

  • Talking to passengers
  • Grooming
  • Adjusting the radio
  • Eating and drinking
  • Setting up navigation systems

distracted-drivingWe are not recommending that you give your passengers the silent treatment, or that you can’t have your coffee during your morning commute, but these actions take a toll on your ability to react. Anything that takes your eyes off the road and breaks your concentration from driving is a distraction. When you are driving at highway speeds, you can cover the distance of a football field in just seconds. Consider how long it takes you to type and send the average message, and calculate how many football fields you covered without looking at the road.

Cell Phones and Distracted Driving

As a society, we have become more and more reliant on cell phones in every aspect of our lives. We use them to take pictures, text friends and family, navigate to unknown locations, get traffic information, and even occasionally to call people. When we do these things while driving, we significantly increase the risk of causing an accident. Driving while texting accidents have become all too frequent.

  • According to the annual AAA Foundation Traffic Safety Culture Index, 80% say that distraction is a serious problem and a behavior that makes them feel less safe on the road. 
  • In 2014, there were 2,955 fatal crashes that occurred on U.S. roadways that involved distraction (10% of all fatal crashes). (NHTSA)
  • In 2014, there were an estimated 297,000 distraction-affected injury crashes. (NHTSA)
  • Every day, 11 teenagers die because they were texting while driving. 94% of teenagers understand the consequences of texting and driving, but 35% of them admitted that they do it anyway. (Distracted Driver Accidents)
  • Driving while using a cell phone reduces brain activity associated with driving (e.g., spatial processing that helps drivers remember and make sense of the objects they observe on the street) by 37 percent. (AAA)

Increased research is being conducted regarding the effects of hands free phone use. In nearly every case, it is proven repeatedly that just the act of speaking to the cell phone in a speech to text or phone conversation has a detrimental effect on a driver’s concentration. Facts about the dangers of distracted driving are easy to come by, and frighteningly ominous.
 

Apps that Prevent Texting and Driving

These apps are designed to prevent you (or your driving teen) from texting and driving.

LifeSaver

LifeSaver is a free app available on both Google Play and the iPhone App Store. Designed for the teen driver, it gives parents the peace of mind to know that their young driver is doing the right thing. The app locks the phone while it is moving at speeds greater than 10 miles per hour. It includes many features such as a parent controlled “Passenger Unlock” and a “LifeSaver Rewards” system that allows parents to set a monthly reward system for safe, non-distracted driving.

 AT&T DriveMode

Don’t let the AT&T name fool you, DriveMode is available on all carriers. As any app, it is available on Google Play and the iTunes App Store, and this one is also free. Per the AT&T site, “The app activates when speed reaches 15 MPH and deactivates when speed drops below 15 MPH for 2-3 minutes.” DriveMode silences text message alerts and automatically replies to text messages. The downside of this app is that it only works for SMS messages, and not third-party applications such as Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp.
 

State Laws Regarding Cell Phone Use While Driving

The Governors Highway Safety Association lists and defines the most common infractions for each state. We have compiled this list that shows what states have complete cell phone usage bans, as well as text messaging bans.

 

STATE

HAND-HELD BAN

TEXT MESSAGING BAN

Alabama

 

Yes

Alaska

 

Yes

Arizona

 

 

Arkansas

18 - 20 years old

Yes

California

Yes

Yes

Colorado

 

Yes

Connecticut

Yes

Yes

Delaware

Yes

Yes

D.C.

Yes

Yes

Florida

 

Yes

Georgia

 

Yes

Hawaii

Yes

Yes

Idaho

 

Yes

Illinois

Yes

Yes

Indiana

 

Yes

Iowa

 

Yes

Kansas

 

Yes

Kentucky

 

Yes

Louisiana

Learner or Intermediate License

Yes

Maine

 

Yes

Maryland

Yes

Yes

Massachusetts

 

Yes

Michigan

 

Yes

Minnesota

 

Yes

Mississippi

 

Yes

Missouri

 

 

Montana

 

 

Nebraska

 

Yes

Nevada

Yes

Yes

New Hampshire

Yes

Yes

New Jersey

Yes

Yes

New Mexico

In State vehicles

Yes

New York

Yes

Yes

North Carolina

 

Yes

North Dakota

 

Yes

Ohio

 

Yes

Oklahoma

Learner or Intermediate License

Yes

Oregon

Yes

Yes

Pennsylvania

 

Yes

Puerto Rico

Yes

Yes

Rhode Island

 

Yes

South Carolina

 

Yes

South Dakota

 

Yes

Tennessee

 

Yes

Texas

 

 

Utah

 

Yes

Vermont

Yes

Yes

Virgin Islands

Yes

Yes

Virginia

 

Yes

Washington

Yes

Yes

West Virginia

Yes

Yes

Wisconsin

 

Yes

Wyoming

 

Yes

 

*All information has been provided by the Governors Highway Safety Association


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