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Study Measures Distracted Driving Activities That Can Lead to Car Accidents

Distracted Driving

We all know by now that texting while driving or using a handheld cell phone in the car is dangerous, but how dangerous is it compared to other tasks? A recent scientific study asked that same question and came up with some surprising results about distracted driving and how little it takes to distract the mind from the critical job of paying attention to the road.

The study, Measuring Cognitive Distraction in the Automobile, was led by Dr. David Strayer, a Ph.D. professor of cognition and neural sciences and Director of the Center for the Prevention of Distracted Driving at the University of Utah. The study was sponsored by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, and a copy of the study can be found on the AAA Foundation website. An article about the study can also be found in the July/August issue of Westways, a magazine for AAA members in Southern California.

The study defined different levels of distraction on a scale of 1 to 5. When you are driving, you start out at 1 on the scale, because driving is itself a mental task that requires concentration. Listening to the radio only increases one’s distraction slightly, up to 1.21, while listening to an audiobook ranks at 1.75, pulling more of the driver’s attention away from the task of driving.

In contrast to listening to the radio or an audiobook, participating in a phone conversation more than doubles the driver’s level of distraction. Surprisingly, the difference between conversing on a handheld phone versus hands-free was not very large; hands-free measured 2.27 on the scale while handheld came in at 2.45.

Interacting with a speech-to-text device triples the driver’s distraction from the road, with a ranking of 3.01. This type of technology is on the rise, and more and more new cars are integrating more and more interactive voice command technologies, increasing the driver’s level of distraction. Keep in mind that for all of these distractions we have discussed, the driver’s eyes have not left the road. Imagine the distraction created when the eyes are diverted to interact with a cell phone’s texting feature, a GPS screen or the many infotainment features popping up on dashboards everywhere as the next big thing in the ultimate driving experience.

Get Experienced Legal Help in the Event of an Auto Accident

So we all know that texting while driving and other distracted driving causes car accidents, but proving the other driver’s negligence in court can be a complicated matter. For more information and resources on distracted driving, visit Distraction.gov, a joint project of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation, and the official U.S. government website for distracted driving. If you or a loved one have been injured in an automobile accident in New Jersey, contact Dupée & Monroe for a consultation with one of our experienced personal injury attorneys.

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