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“No Hands” Doesn’t Equal “No Distraction”

Most people believe that a cell phone is distracting because the driver has to use one hand to hold up the phone or dial/text while using the other hand to drive. However, if you eliminate the need to use your hands, you eliminate the danger — or so many people believe.

Experts say that Bluetooth devices and hands-free headsets have not entirely eliminated the distraction factor to create safer driving scenarios. In fact, hands-free devices can be just as distracting because the driver’s mental focus is taken off the road to answer calls, hear messages read aloud and configure the device for use.

It is estimated that one-tenth of all drivers use their cell phones while they are behind the wheel and this use contributes to nearly one-fourth of all car accidents. Distraction is a real problem on the roads, and since April was Distracted Driving Awareness Month, many prominent safety workers and businesses have called for an overhaul to the current standards of safe cell phone use, which rely heavily on the use of hands-free devices to cut back on distractions and promote safe driving.

In a piece posted to the U.S. Department of Labor’s blog, National Safety Council CEO and president Deborah Hersman wrote about the fallacy of equating “hands-free” with “risk-free” and the dangerous results. She stated that companies need to begin implementing safer practices for their employees’ cell phone use, especially on company time and during travel.

She referenced the legal responsibilities outlined in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s distracted driving brochure, which detail how employers should handle company vehicles, company cell phones and safety.

Highlighted in Hersman’s blog post is Owens Corning, the recipient of the 2014 Green Cross for Safety medal. The company has enforced a strict cell phone policy—no phones in use while driving, either hands-free or otherwise—for the past three years. Before implementing this rule, the company CEO went 90 days without using his cell phone in the car and found it did not affect his productivity.

Costs of Communication

Hersman’s piece is aimed at raising awareness for employers who provide company cell phones or require on-the-go communication between employees, but her message is true for all drivers. “There is no safe way to use a cell phone and drive,” she says, and each year, many drivers and passengers are killed as a result of constant connectivity and distraction.

In eliminating cell phone use on the road entirely, Hersman believes that distracted driving will become a thing of the past as drivers return their attention fully to the roads ahead.

At Levine Law, we represent anyone who has been injured as a result of someone else’s distracted driving or negligence behind the wheel, whether the driver was using a cell phone or a hands-free device. If you feel that you may have a personal injury claim, contact one of our Denver auto accident attorneys to discuss your case today.

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