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Hands-free devices don't always mean distraction-free driving

By now, it should be obvious to everyone in Ohio and across the nation that digital devices can create dangerous distractions for drivers. In an effort to avoid distractions, many drivers are switching to hands-free systems so that they can talk on the phone or accomplish other tasks without taking their hands off the wheel.

Unfortunately, hands-free driving does not necessarily mean distraction-free driving. A hands-free device can even create a false sense of security, causing drivers to take unnecessary risks with other distractions. A new study is showing that being a distracted driver is likely to spark other forms of distraction behind the wheel, increasing the risk.

According to Lytx, a company that provides various information and research for trucking fleets, truckers are using hands-free devices when behind the wheel more frequently. While this would normally be viewed as a positive development for safety, the study shows that it might be creating other dangerous behaviors. In 23 of the incidents it scored, the driver was taking part in more than one activity that could be construed as risky. In general, the drivers were doing something else that was distracting and it happened while they used a hands-free device.

A distracted truck driver is the second most common reason for a fatal truck accident due to driver behavior. Overall, there was a 27% increase in hands-free device use in 2018. For the fleets that are tracked by Lytx, 65% of drivers used a hands-free device. However, there was a rise of 10% in behaviors where drivers were using the hands-free device and were distracted in another way by smoking, eating, drinking or by using a separate device. As for behaviors while using handheld devices, risky acts rose by 13%.

Companies that worked with Lytx saw a major reduction in incidents of dangerous driving in 2018 when compared with 2017. Still, with drivers using cellphones behind the wheel often traveling at 65 mph, the danger is always there. Given the injuries and fatalities after truck accidents, these studies are critical to understand how to stay safe on the road. When there is a crash and people have been injured or lost a loved one, having legal help to assess the police investigation, gather evidence and move forward with a lawsuit for compensation requires experienced legal assistance.

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