Austin, Texas (PRWEB) July 05, 2013
Austin car accident lawyer Don R. Cotton today expressed support for AAA’s call to investigate limits on in-car distractions, including those caused by voice-operated controls, after a new study revealed that hands-free devices divert motorists’ attention from safe driving.
“We must find ways to limit in-car distractions, because we know distracted driving is dangerous and causes accidents that result in injuries and deaths,” said Cotton, a lawyer with The Bob Richardson Law Firm, a personal injury firm with offices in Austin and Waco. “We’re still learning more about what constitutes an in-car distraction and we need to make sure new technology makes cars safer, not more dangerous.”
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study “Measuring Cognitive Distraction in the Automobile” found that using voice-activated technology causes mental distraction, resulting in a serious safety risk, even if a driver’s hands remain on the steering wheel and his or her eyes stay on the road ahead. The study was released last month.
Hands-free devices undermine driver attention because brain function is compromised and reaction times slow as distractions and mental workload increase, according to the study. Consequently, drivers can fail to scan the road properly and miss visual cues. The result may be that drivers do not see what is right in front of them, including traffic signals and people on foot.
“The information from AAA is startling,” Cotton said. “With much of this technology in its infancy, there’s a lot we don’t know. What we do know is that drivers must stay focused on the road ahead and on the conditions around them, no matter what. Common sense also should guide drivers to stay free from the distractions that take their attention away from the task at hand — safe driving.”
With car infotainment systems expected to increase fivefold by 2018, AAA called for action as a result of the research, according to a press release from the organization. AAA urged the automotive and electronics industries to explore limiting voice-activated technology to core driving activities, disabling voice-to-text technologies while the vehicle is in motion and educating drivers about the safety risks and the responsible use of in-vehicle technologies.
“The recommendations from AAA are definitely worth exploring,” Cotton said. “New technology comes out every day, and while we know distracted driving is dangerous, we’re really just starting to learn what makes a driver distracted.”
Data in the AAA study came from a research team at the University of Utah, which used cameras, a Detection-Response-Task device and an electroencephalographic (EEG)-configured skull cap to measure drivers’ distraction levels on a scale of 1 to 3. Tasks such as listening to the radio measured a 1, or minimal risk. Talking on a cell phone, either handheld or hands-free, ranked a 2, or moderate risk. Listening to and responding to voice-activated, in-vehicle email features ranked a 3, or extensive risk.
“We must dedicate ourselves to minimizing the risks of distracted driving whether that is by taking advantage of technology or simply avoiding technology while driving,” Cotton said. “Too many people are being hurt by something that is completely preventable.”
In 2011, 3,331 people died in distracted-driving accidents, according to data from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, up from 3,092 in 2010. Crashes involving a distracted driver injured 387,000 people in 2011.
Cotton stressed that drivers who cause distracted driving-related crashes may be held responsible even if they were using hands-free devices. He urged victims of Texas car accidents caused by distracted driving to consult with a qualified lawyer such as those at his firm.
“The attorneys at The Bob Richardson Law Firm have the experience and knowledge to help victims of distracted driving crashes through the legal process and recover the compensation they need and deserve,” he said.
About The Bob Richardson Law Firm
The Bob Richardson Law Firm is a highly respected Texas law firm that assists clients with personal injury lawsuits, as well as veteran’s benefits claims and claims for Social Security disability benefits. Our experienced attorneys handle cases involving car accidents, motorcycle accidents, truck accidents, construction accidents, workplace accidents and slip-and-fall accidents, as well claims for VA disability compensation, SSDI benefits and SSI benefits. The firm features offices in Austin and Waco and assists clients throughout Round Rock, Georgetown, Killeen, Temple, Cedar Park, Lakeway, Taylor, Belton and surrounding Texas communities. The firm’s principal office is located at 812 San Antonio St., Suite 300, Austin, TX 78701 (local phone (512) 472-5100). To learn more about The Bob Richardson Law Firm, call (800) 880-5100 or fill out the firm’s online contact form.