Hands free devices still present a significant form of distraction

Although Minnesota motorists are not prohibited from using hand-held cellular devices, many drivers choose to use hands free cellphones in order to avoid driver distraction. Hands free cellular devices and voice-activated technology help to eliminate manual and visual driver distractions. However, studies show that these devices still present a significant amount of cognitive distraction to motorists behind the wheel, and may contribute to serious injuries. The results of the studies have some people wondering whether these devices are actually helpful to drivers at all.

What is cognitive distraction?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cognitive distraction is one of the three types of driver distraction. Any activity that diverts a motorist's attention away from the task of driving acts as a cognitive distraction. Most commonly, this occurs when drivers are trying to maintain a conversation while keeping their eyes on the road. For most Minnesota residents, accomplishing these tasks simultaneously seems like second nature. Yet, research from the National Safety Council shows that it's not that simple.

The NSC reported that the human brain is physiologically unable to perform two complex activities as the same time. Instead of working on both things at once, the brain switches quickly back and forth from one task to the other. While the brain is engaged in the conversation, it is not focused on the road ahead. In fact, drivers who are cognitively distracted are unable to process up to 50 percent of the information in their driving environment. Not only that, but they are less likely to respond to certain driving hazards, including objects in the road, pedestrian crossings, traffic signals, stop signs and reckless drivers.

Voice-activated technology

As a way to deter drivers from using their cellphones while driving, many vehicle and cellphone manufacturers have designed voice-activated technology. This feature allows drivers to perform simple tasks, such as changing a radio station, dialing a phone number, composing a text message and even listening to emails, all with simple voice commands. A study released by AAA found that flaws in voice-activated systems can be just as distracting as talking on hand-held cellphones, and may cause auto accidents as well.

Obtaining legal counsel from an attorney

People who have been involved in a car accident caused by distracted driver may be eligible for compensation for their property damage, medical expenses, lost wages from work and any emotional trauma they have experienced. A Minnesota attorney who handles cases involving distracted driving accidents may be able to help you formulate a case and review your options when it comes to receiving the compensation you deserve.