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Hands-free technology and perceptions of safety

As issues involving car accidents related to the use of cellphones have raised safety concerns across the country, Kentucky motorists may have invested in hands-free devices to facilitate safer communications while driving. In fact, a new vehicle might be more attractive to a potential buyer because of features such as Bluetooth pairing and GPS systems. However, safety is not guaranteed just because hands-free features are incorporated into a vehicle's design. Conversation can result in distraction from one's driving, which can increase the risk of an accident.

Interacting with a cellphone through texting or other tactile activity implies the need to turn one's eyes away from the road, which can easily be viewed as a driver's careless actions. However, such activities can also occur as a driver operates the radio or GPS system in a vehicle. Even a Bluetooth call can require some tactile activity as buttons are pushed to initiate a call. The engagement of the brain in a conversation or in the operation of infotainment features can be enough to cause a distracted driving accident.

Some types of distractions have been dealt with among young drivers through the use of restrictions based on age and driving experience. For example, a young driver might not be permitted to carry passengers for several months after receiving their license. Some vehicle manufacturers have incorporated technology to prevent radio usage until the seat belts have been buckled. However, driver choices are still critical for ensuring that concentration is focused mainly on driving activity.

Injuries in distracted driving accidents can be particularly serious if a driver's eyes are not on the road. When a driver does not see a potential accident situation developing, there is little or no time to reduce speed or change course. Such incidents can cause severe injuries or death, for which a distracted driver could be legally and financially responsible.

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