S.C. Injury Lawyer Supports AAA’s Call for Limits on In-Car Distractions, Including New Voice-Activated Controls

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Ken Harrell, managing partner of Joye Law Firm, says new report shows that hands-free technology, such as voice-to-text and voice controls, are a major distraction behind the wheel and can lead to car accidents.

Charleston, North Charleston, Myrtle Beach, Columbia, Clinton, South Carolina, SC, car accident, distracted driving, personal injury, wrongful death, accident, injury, workers’ compensation, lawyer, attorney, law firm

Ken Harrell

AAA is asking drivers not to use functions such as voice-to-text while their car is moving. That’s good advice. The most important thing for drivers is to keep their focus on the road, regardless of what technology is at their disposal.

With a new AAA study showing that hands-free devices may be even more distracting for drivers than handheld cell phones, Charleston car accident lawyer Ken Harrell today joined those urging the government and lawmakers to consider limits on in-car distractions.

“We all know that distracted driving, and in particular the use of a cell phone behind the wheel, is extremely dangerous,” said Harrell, managing partner of the Joye Law Firm, a personal injury practice with offices in Charleston, Myrtle Beach and Clinton. “We need to take a step back and make sure the very technology being developed to reduce in-car distractions is not actually making the problem worse.”

Harrell cited a new study released June 12 by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, which found that the mental distraction caused by voice-activated technology poses a serious safety threat, even when drivers’ eyes remain on the road and their hands remain on the steering wheel. The findings show that as mental workload and distractions increase, brain function is compromised and reaction time slows. As a result, drivers scan the road less and miss visual cues, potentially resulting in drivers not seeing things right in front of them, including pedestrians and stop signs.

Using cameras, a detection-response-task device and other methods, the AAA study rated the levels of mental distraction for specific activities while driving. Rankings included:

  •     Tasks such as listening to the radio or audio books ranked as a category 1, or a minimal risk of distraction.
  •     Talking on a cell phone, either handheld or hands-free, ranked as a 2, or a moderate risk.
  •     Listening to and responding to in-vehicle, voice-activated email ranked as a 3, or extensive risk.

“AAA is asking drivers not to use functions such as voice-to-text while their car is moving,” Harrell said. “That’s good advice. The most important thing for drivers is to keep their focus on the road, regardless of what technology is at their disposal.”

With so-called infotainment systems in new vehicles predicted to increase fivefold by 2018, AAA is calling for action as result of the research. AAA President and CEO Robert L. Darbelnet said in a press release, “There is a looming public safety crisis ahead with the future proliferation of these in-vehicle technologies. It’s time to consider limiting new and potentially dangerous mental distractions built into cars, particularly with the common public misperception that hands-free means risk-free.”

Harrell agreed, saying, “Many drivers are beginning to rely on new technologies that allow them to use their cell phones’ features while driving. But we owe it to the thousands who have been injured and killed by distracted driving to make sure that new technologies don’t create an even more dangerous situation.”

According to figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,331 people died in distracted-driving accidents in 2011, up from 3,092 in 2010. Also in 2011, 387,000 people were injured in crashes involving a distracted driver.

Harrell reminded victims of car accidents caused by distracted driving that at-fault drivers may be held responsible even if they were using hands-free devices. He urged car accident victims to consult a qualified South Carolina personal injury lawyer like those at his firm.

“At Joye Law Firm, our car accident attorneys have the experience to analyze every element of a case to help make sure that victims of distracted drivers get the compensation they deserve,” he said.

About Joye Law Firm

Since 1968, Joye Law Firm has been fighting to help people throughout South Carolina with their legal challenges in a broad range of practice areas, including car accidents, birth injury, brain injury, defective products, drug injury, nursing home abuse, Social Security disability, spinal cord injury, truck accidents, workers’ compensation and wrongful death. The South Carolina law firm has offices in Charleston, Myrtle Beach and Clinton, but assists clients throughout the state. The firm’s Charleston-area office is located at Northgate Office Building, 5861 Rivers Avenue, North Charleston, SC 29406 (local phone (843) 554-3100). Its Myrtle Beach office is located at 8703 Highway 17 Bypass, Unit H, Myrtle Beach, SC 29575. The Clinton office is located at 509 North Broad Street, Clinton, SC 29325. Contact Joye Law Firm by calling (888) 324-3100 or filling out its online contact form.

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