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Drivers using hands-free tech still suffer 'inattention blindness'

A study performed by researchers working on behalf of the AAA Foundation found that hands-free technology does not necessarily mean that a driver is free from distractions. The study, which looked at a number of drivers that were using the hands-free technology, found that even when a driver makes a phone call, changes the radio or sends a text message with their voice, they still suffer "inattention blindness."

This condition causes a driver to scan the road less frequently, and their reaction time to changes in traffic is reduced. Hands-free technology has been touted as a breakthrough for solving (if only partially) the texting while driving dilemma. But as it turns out, there is still a distracting layer when a driver uses the technology.

So many vehicles carry hands-free systems now, and the number of vehicles with them on U.S. roadways will only increase. Drivers of these vehicles may think that they are able to circumvent the dangers of texting while driving by using hands-free systems, but they will be less focused on the road and more prone to accidents.

Here in West Virginia, the texting while driving ban is relatively lax when compared with other states. Teens aged 18 or younger are prohibited from texting while driving if they have a learner's permit or an intermediate license -- but what is increasingly well known is that anyone who texts and drives poses a serious risk to others on the road. Even without a ban, adults who text, drive and cause an accident can be sued by the accident victims.

Source: The Day, "AAA study: When driving, hands-free does not equal risk-free," Izaskun E. Larraneta, June 13, 2013

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