Texas A&M Study Shows Hands-Free Cell Use Still Increases Accident Risks

Jun 2013

Public education campaigns and laws targeting the use of cell phones while driving generally focus on the dangers of handheld phones. As a result, many people believe that it is relatively safe to use your phone while you are driving as long as you do it using Bluetooth or another hands-free system.  

Recent research, however, tells a different story. Our San Antonio car accident lawyers know that drivers using their phones are always going to pay less attention to what is going on around them and thus will be at a greater risk of becoming involved in a crash. A recent Texas A&M Study confirms this fact, suggesting that it is no safer to use a voice-to-text application to send a text while driving than it is to send a text manually.

Researchers Find That Hands-Free Texting is Still Dangerous

CBS News reports that researchers from Texas A&M asked 43 drivers to operate vehicles on a closed course. The drivers first drove the course without using a cell phone at all. The drivers then drove the course three more times, each time doing a different texting exercise.

One of the trips involved using the Siri personal assistant on the Apple iPhone to send a text message. A second involved using Vlingo, which is an app allowing hands-free texting on Android phones. Finally, on the last trip, the drivers sent a text message manually.

As the drivers drove the course, researchers measured how long it took the drivers to complete a task and how long it took the drivers to respond to a traffic light that was turned on at random intervals along the course.  The outcome showed that the response time of all drivers was significantly delayed any time they were texting, whether they were doing so manually or whether they were doing so while using their hands-free apps.

Researchers also noted that drivers who were texting took their eyes off the road more often and took twice as long to respond when they were texting as compared to when they were paying attention. This was true whether they had the phone in their hands or whether they were using their voices to text.

Further, while the drivers performances were the same with both manual texting and voice texting, it took less time to send the text manually than it did to send the text using voice software. This could mean that drivers who use Siri and other voice programs to send a text message are actually at greater risk of becoming involved in an accident since they will be distracted longer than other drivers.

Also concerning is the fact that study participants reported that they felt safer when talking to their smart phones as compared to when they were sending a text message by holding their phones. This deceptive and false sense of security could lead more drivers to text and drive and could thus create a greater danger for the drivers, passengers and others sharing the road.

If you’ve been injured in an accident, contact the Herrera Law Firm at 800-455-1054 for a free case evaluation.

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