Abels & Annes

Hands-Free Phone Devices Risky, Could Cause Car Accidents in Illinois

As recently reported, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is pushing for a ban on cell phone use by drivers. According to CNN, most states are unlikely to adopt a ban on hands-free devices. In 35 states, drivers are banned from texting at the wheel. In another nine states, drivers are banned from talking on a hand-held cell phone at the wheel. But no drivers in the country are banned from using hands-free devices.

A recent landmark study from the National Safety Council (NSC) concludes that hands-free devices are just as dangerous as talking on a cell phone without a hands-free capability. States have been regulating distracting behavior for drivers since 2000, but everyone’s overlooked the dangers of hands-free devices. It could very well be that hands-free devices are just as dangerous in causing distraction-related car accidents in Chicago and elsewhere.
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“It’s going to take a long time for legislatures to pass laws, and a long time for states to begin to enforce the laws, and then a long time for behavior to start to change,” said Barbara Harsha of the Governors Highway Safety Association.

Our Chicago car accident attorneys understand that lawmakers are hesitant to make changes to road laws because of the anticipated backlash. Many residents throughout the United States have voiced a concern fighting against government intrusions on personal freedoms. Take the seat belt laws for example. The first seat belt laws passed back in the 1980s. Currently, there are 85 percent of drivers across the U.S. who buckle up on a daily basis. States were slow to follow the trend, many not enacting seat belt laws until recent years. Although residents aren’t likely to adopt the safe driving behaviors regulated by the government, drivers will come around eventually, studies show.

According to David Adkins of The Council of State Governments, state governments are unlikely going to jump on board for the full ban of cell phones at the wheel. He goes on to say that most lawmakers understand that this prohibition isn’t realistic for most drivers. Between picking up the kids, planning dinner and scheduling meetings, all too many drivers rely on some sort of electronic connection at the wheel.

According to the National Safety Council, car accidents are the number one cause of death in the U.S. for people ages 3- to 24-years-old. Each year since 1994, between 39,000 and 46,000 people died every year because of car accidents.

Distractions at the wheel have joined the list for the top contributors for fatal car accidents along with speeding. About a quarter of all fatal accidents involve a driver using a cell phone. In 2010, more than 3,000 people were killed on U.S. roadways because of distraction-related accidents.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) believes that at any given moment, more than 10 percent of drivers are on the phone behind the wheel.

The NSC study concluded that multitasking is a myth, and that no one can partake in two different activities while offering the same amount of attention to each as if they were only engaging in one. This includes talking on a hands-free phone and driving.

Effects of hands-free phone use at the wheel:

-Limits the portions of the road we can see at once. Drivers focus on smaller areas when juggling another activity with driving.

-Response times are slowed significantly.

-Drivers have been proven to swerve more.

-Drivers are four times more likely to get into an accident.

Lawmakers believe that they’re helping to preserve road safety by prohibiting the use of hand-held cell phones and text messaging devices for drivers.

If you or someone in your family has been involved in a distraction-related car accident, the personal injury attorneys and wrongful death lawyers at Abels & Annes offer free and confidential appointments to discuss your rights. Call (866) 99-ABELS. There is no fee unless you win.

Additional Resources:

Call for car-phone ban likely to meet busy signal in states, by Michael Martinez and Zohreen Adamjee, CNN
More Blog Entries:

USDOT’s “OMG” PSAs to Curb Distraction-Related Teen Car Accidents in Chicago, Nation, Chicago Car Accident Lawyers Blog, December 13, 2011
NHTSA Releases New 2010 Data for Car Accidents in Illinois and Elsewhere, Chicago Car Accident Lawyers Blog, December 9, 2011