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Two important reminders about the dangers of distracted driving

Many of our previous posts have focused on the serious hazard of distracted driving. Californians are fortunate to live in a state with among the most restrictive laws governing cellphone use behind the wheel. But distracted driving remains a serious risk, and it continues to cause car accidents on California roads and highways.

In today’s post, we’ll focus on two important points that often get lost in the conversation about distracted driving. The first is that although California law bans the use of handheld cellphones behind the wheel, hands-free technology might not be much safer or less distracting. The second is that cellphones are only one source of distraction for drivers.

In order to maintain legal compliance and to offer customers more choices, many car companies are including in-vehicle technology to wirelessly connect the driver’s cellphone to the car. Drivers can then engage in hands-free voice calls and voice-activated text messaging. This gets around California’s ban on the use of handheld cellphones and electronic devices.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, bans on handheld cellphones seem to reduce overall phone use but they do not reduce the risk of crashes for drivers who switch to hands-free options instead. In fact, some researchers believe that voice-activated technologies could actually be more distracting because drivers are not used to using them.

Finally, it’s important to remember that cellphones are dangerous behind the wheel, but they are not the only sources of distraction drivers face. Adjusting the radio, eating, grooming and tending to a child in the back can also be dangerous if they take your eyes of the road, your hands off the wheel or your mind off the task of driving.

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