Are hands free cellular devices safe for Illinois motorists?

While Illinois has cellphone laws banning drivers from using hand-held devices, studies show hands free cellphones may be dangerous to use while driving.

Illinois has some of the strictest cellphone laws in the nation, according to Distraction.gov. Motorists in the state are prohibited from using hand-held cellular devices to talk or text while driving. Bus drivers, novice drivers and motorists traveling through school zones are also banned from using any type of cellphone, including hands free devices. While officials hope that these laws will reduce the number of distracted driving car accidents, injuries and deaths that occur in the state each year, studies show that even hands free cellphones act as a significant source of driver distraction.

What is cognitive distraction?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are three types of driver distraction. Manual distractions occur when drivers are forced to remove their hands from the steering wheel, such as adjusting the radio station or reaching for an object. When drivers take their eyes off of the road, they are visually distracted. Cognitive distraction, on the other hand, occurs when drivers remove their attention from driving. This can happen when drivers engage in a conversation and lose focus on what is happening on the road.

Inattention blindness

The National Safety Council evaluated over 30 studies investigating cognitive distraction, and found that this form of driver interference stems from the physiological makeup of the human brain. Experts reported that the brain is unable to effectively complete two complex tasks at the same time, including driving while engaging in a conversation. Instead, the mind switches quickly back and forth from one task to the other. This leaves periods of time where the brain is not focused on driving at all, and is otherwise known as inattention blindness.

Inattention blindness occurs when drivers are looking straight ahead, but fail to visually process up to 50 percent of the information in their driving environment. During this time, drivers are also less likely to respond to certain hazards, such as bad weather conditions, objects in the road or other motorists' reckless behaviors.

Distracted driving accidents

Car accidents, including those initiated by distracted drivers, can cause serious injuries. In fact, traffic accidents are the third leading cause of traumatic brain injuries, according to the CDC. Sudden impact can also result in broken bones, lacerations, spinal cord damage, paralysis and loss of limbs. In some cases, severe injuries require ongoing medical treatment and substantial lifestyle changes. Not only do auto accident victims suffer from physical injuries, but they may also experience emotional trauma as well.

The need for legal counseling

For many victims of distracted driving car accidents, medical expenses, property damage and lost time from work can become overwhelming. People may choose to seek legal advice from an established personal injury attorney in Illinois, who may be helpful in organizing a case. You may be eligible for compensation.

Keywords: distracted, driving, accident, injury