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Is it still distracted driving with hands-free devices?

Some California residents who are concerned about distracted driving may have wondered whether hands-free devices are a viable solution to the problem. Although they may indeed partially mitigate distraction, there could still be other issues involved that require further attention.

Distracted driving occurs whenever a vehicle operator's attention is diverted away from the road. This most commonly occurs when someone uses a cellphone while driving to make calls or send text messages instead of focusing on the task of driving itself. Some people believe that hands-free devices are a desirable alternative because they, by definition, don't require motorists to take their hands from the wheel in order to operate. However, this may not be all that is required to prevent distracted driving car accidents.

There is more to inattentive driving than just manual distraction. Though as many as 53 percent of drivers may believe that hands-free technology and GPS devices are safe, they might actually be more of a question of convenience than safety. The true distraction, even with devices that are not hands-free, is mental rather than physical. If the mind itself is preoccupied by a speakerphone, for example, then distracted driving can occur whether the hands are free or not.

In cases where a distracted driver causes a motor vehicle accident, injured victims are often forced to undergo expensive medical treatment and miss work for prolonged periods. While it is more difficult to prove that a motorist was distracted than it is to show alcohol impairment, an attorney for a person who has been injured could use cellphone records and other evidence to demonstrate negligence.

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