You can use hands-free, Bluetooth technology while you are driving in New Jersey. However, you should ask yourself: Even though it is legal, is it still safe to do so?
You may find that the risk of getting involved in a serious car accident while using a hands-free device may be similar to the risk you would face if you were using a conventional phone to talk or text while behind the wheel.
Debunking Myths About Safety of Driving with Hands-Free Phones
In theory, hands-free driving should be safer than using a hand-held device. However, as The Washington Post reports, the Discovery Channel’s “Mythbusters” crew debunked that notion.
As The Post explains, MythBusters conducted an experiment with a virtual driving simulator at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California.
They created a street with many “obstacles” for a driver who was not paying attention, including:
- Unleashed dogs
(On an average urban street, of course, you typically would encounter even more obstacles, including cars, electric scooters and other motorized and non-motorized vehicles.)
Out of the 15 virtual drivers using hands-free devices who took the MythBusters test, “one passed [the driving test], six failed by driving the wrong way and eight failed by crashing.”
Based on these results, MythBusters concluded that “it is no safer to use a hands-free device while driving than it is to use a handset.”
Unfortunately, state laws seem to have been drafted with the notion that hands-free cell phones do not pose the same amount of danger as hand-held phones.
According to the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission, drivers can face fines ranging from $200 to $800 if they are caught talking or texting on hand-held wireless communication devices. Depending on whether it is a first or a repeat offense, a driver can also lose a driver’s license.
But as the Commission states, “although it is discouraged, drivers may use a hands-free device if it does not interfere with standard safety equipment.”
In addition to the MythBusters test we mentioned above, the National Safety Council (NSC) provides a wealth of data that points to the distracted driving risks involved in using Bluetooth devices while driving.
According to the NSC, more than 25 percent of all car crashes involve a driver using a cell phone, including hands-free devices. Additionally, the NSC reports that:
- Brain activity decreases by more than 30 percent when listening to a phone conversation on either a hand-held or hands-free device.
- Drivers can miss seeing up to 50 percent of what is around their vehicle when their mind is not entirely on driving.
- Voice-to-text—or hands-free texting—may actually be more distracting than using your hands to type out a text message.
Study Shows Risks of Hands-Free Devices
If these facts are not enough to make clear that hands-free talking certainly is not distraction-free driving, you should take a look at some information that was reported recently by The Washington Post.
According to the newspaper, a new study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety showed that hands-free technologies used by almost a third of drivers “can create mental distractions even if drivers have their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.”
The study also found that using a voice-activated entertainment system while driving — in other words, hands-free technology — can distract a driver for up to 27 seconds. If you are going 25 miles per hour, your car can travel the length of three football fields in that amount of time. (Now, imagine you are driving on the New Jersey Turnpike. Just think of how many football fields you would at that rate of speed during those 27 distracted seconds.)
Hurt by a Distracted Driver? Contact Our New Jersey Auto Accident Lawyers
Distracted driving can take many forms. It results whenever a driver does not have his or her hands, eyes and mind on the road.
Despite the fact that many Americans believe hands-free technology is safe to use while behind the wheel, studies show that Bluetooth technology results in serious distractions that can lead to severe auto accidents.
If you or someone you love has suffered injuries in a traffic collision that involved a suspected distracted driver, you should discuss your case with an experienced New Jersey car accident lawyer as soon as possible. Contact Davis, Saperstein & Salomon, P.C., to receive a free consultation.