man in a suit sits behind the wheel of a car

The next time you get ready to drive somewhere, the best command to give Siri before turning on the ignition might be: “Siri, turn off this phone and don’t disturb me while I’m driving.”

The growing awareness that electronic distractions pose a serious risk to drivers has led to the widespread introduction of more voice-activated, hands-free technologies in cars and cell phones. But using voice-activated technologies such as Apple’s Siri requires mental focus and can still be distracting to drivers. According to the AAA Foundation for Highway Safety, the increasing presence of voice-activated electronics in automobiles invites distraction and represents a safety problem for drivers.

If you have been injured in an accident caused by a distracted driver in South Carolina, contact our South Carolina personal injury lawyers at Joye Law Firm today for a free consultation. For more than 50 years, our dedicated attorneys have been helping injured South Carolinians seek just compensation to rebuild their lives after serious accidents.

Phone Use for Drivers

Distracted driving is one of the most common causes of traffic accidents in the United States. Distractions such as eating and drinking, personal grooming, daydreaming and adjusting the radio have contributed to car crashes for years. But the surge in popularity of cell phones in the last decade has led to an increase in distracted driving accidents. Using a cell phone while driving creates a significant risk of being involved in a serious car accident.

To combat the dangers of typing or texting on a cell phone while driving, tech companies and automakers have introduced hands-free technologies such as Apple’s Siri, which allows you to use voice commands to operate your phone. However, recent studies have shown that even hands-free technologies can cause a driver to take their attention off of the task of driving.

Voice-Recognition Equals Distracted Driving

According to the Automobile Association of America (AAA), hands-free technology can cause cognitive distractions. The research revealed that the mental distractions caused by voice-activated technology could linger up to 27 seconds after using the technology. The researchers said that hands-free, voice-activated technology didn’t do anything notable to enhance driver safety.

While many distractions are physical or visual, mental distractions also can make it harder for a motorist to operate their vehicle safely. As part of their study, the AAA used a scoring scale of 1 to 5 to establish the danger of using certain hands-free technologies. The number 1 represented “least distracting,” while 5 represented “most distracting.” AAA researchers considered any activity that scored higher than 2 to be dangerously distracting. Siri’s rating was 3.4. All the voice-activated systems they tested increased mental distraction, the researchers said.

Another study conducted by Texas A&M’s Transportation Institute concluded that using Siri while driving was just as dangerous as texting and driving. The researchers found that drivers who used voice-activated technology while driving were more distracted and had slower reaction times than when those same drivers were not using any technology.

The researchers said participants in the study were more likely to take their eyes off the road when texting including when using voice-activated technology to send messages than when they were not sending a message. Even though many drivers said they felt safer when using voice-activated technology, the researchers concluded that it didn’t actually make operating a vehicle safer.

Effects of Distracted Driving

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there are three primary types of distracted driving: manual, visual, and cognitive.Distracted-Driving-Accident-Lawyer- texting while driving

  • Manual – When a driver takes their hands off the wheel
  • Visual – When a driver takes their eyes off the road
  • Cognitive – When a driver takes their mental focus off the task of driving

Using a handheld smartphone to send text messages while operating a vehicle is one of the most dangerous types of distracted driving. Texting involves all three types of distractions. When motorists use a smartphone while driving, they typically take their hands off the steering wheel and eyes off the road. Texting is considered to be one of the most dangerous driving distractions.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 9 percent of fatal crashes and 15 percent of crashes causing injuries involved a distracted driver in a recent year. More than 3,100 people were killed and an estimated 424,000 people were injured in accidents involving distracted drivers in 2019 alone.

Many states have passed laws to try to reduce the incidence of distracted driving. In South Carolina, it is against the law to use an electronic communication device, such as a phone, to send texts while driving on any public streets or highways within the state.

The South Carolina Department of Public Safety also strongly recommends refraining from arguing or getting into heated emotional exchanges with other passengers while driving, and not consuming food behind the wheel. It is also recommended that you secure all pets, so they can’t distract you while in transit.

Put Down Your Phone

In light of research indicating that even hands-free technology can cause distracted driving, the safest thing to do as a motorist is to put your phone away while behind the wheel.

Some motorists lock their phones in their center console, glove compartment, or trunk. Shutting your phone off and placing it somewhere out of reach will lower the temptation to pick it up and check incoming messages or use voice-activated technologies to correspond with others.

Distracted driving frequently results in fatal accidents, and mental distractions are a common contributing factor.

Injured by a Distracted Driver? Contact Us Today

Have you been injured in an accident caused by a driver who you suspect was talking on the phone or somehow distracted at the time of the collision? If so, contact the South Carolina distracted driving lawyers at Joye Law Firm today to get started on your accident claim. Our law firm has experience representing people injured by distracted drivers.

Our experienced car accident attorneys have the resources to investigate your distracted driving accident, determine who was at fault, document your losses, and fight for the financial relief you need. You should not have to pay the medical bills if a distracted driver injured you.

Contact us by phone at 888-324-3100 or online today for a free case review.

About the Author

Ken Harrell joined Joye Law Firm in 1994, and has been the managing partner since 2006. With 30 years of experience, he protects the rights of injured South Carolinians, including cases involving workers’ compensation, car accidents, and defective products. Ken also leads the firm’s referral practice, helping to ensure that our clients receive the best possible representation. He is a past president of South Carolina Injured Workers’ Advocates, and has served as the co-chairman of this organization’s legislative affairs committee for 12 years.

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