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Driving and talking on hands-free phone is legal in New York, but risky

Under current New York law, all drivers on New York roadways are prohibited from talking on cellphones while their vehicles are in motion. However, there is an expressed exception to this rule for drivers who are using hands-free cellphones when making calls.The rationale behind such an exception is the generally-held belief that drivers are less likely to be distracted by their cellphones if they do not have to hold the phones or manually enter numbers – and consequently less likely to get into a distracted driving car accident on New York highways.

Sadly, however, a recent study conducted by the AAA indicates that using hands-free phones while driving may actually be much more dangerous than previously thought – meaning New York lawmakers may want to rethink the current hands-free exception.

AAA hands-free study

The AAA study, which was completed by researchers at the University of Utah, measured the eye movements, brainwaves and actual driving performance of 32 students as they drove. Specifically, the students behind the wheel were instructed to perform a variety of tasks, such as sending emails – all the while, mounted cameras monitored eye movement and special skullcaps tracked brain activity.

After analyzing the data, researchers classified talking on a cellphone while driving as a category 2 level distraction – or otherwise put, a “moderate risk” of danger. Importantly, according to the study it does not matter whether the driver is using a hands-free phone or not, the risk is categorized the same.

Unfortunately, if the results of this recent study hold true, the previously believed safety benefits of hands-free cellphones may have been grossly overestimated.

Texting while driving in New York

It is important to note that the AAA study also reviewed the dangers of texting while driving. In particular, the study found that using voice commands to send text messages or emails is actually more dangerous than talking on the phone. For example, using voice-activated email and messaging features was given a category 3 rating, which means it poses an “extensive risk” of danger.

Interestingly, while current New York law bans handheld texting while driving, the law is written in such a way that voice-activated hands-free texting may be permitted – which does not bode well for New York traffic safety given the results of the recent AAA study.

Seek help if injured by a distracted driver

According to the
Associated Press, AAA estimates that the use of voice technology will increase five-fold in the next five years. Consequently, this means that driver distractions caused by hands-free voice-activated cellphones will also likely increase – unless, of course, lawmakers establish new laws to outlaw the practice.

If you or a loved one is injured by one of these distracted drivers, it is important to contact an experienced distracted driving accident attorney to learn what your remedies may be given your circumstances. An experienced attorney can review the facts of your case and help ensure your rights are protected.