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Myth Busting: Distracted Driving Dangers

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Whether we like it or not, we live in an age that requires us to use technology to accomplish even the most basic of daily tasks. We've become so reliant on our gadgets that many of us feel physically uncomfortable and emotionally stressed when we are caught without our cell phones. That may be part of the reason why approximately 660,000 American drivers use cell phones or other electronic devices while driving at any given daylight moment. But just because it's extremely common doesn't mean it's safe. Despite evidence to the contrary, we tend to downplay distracted driving and the damage it can cause. But if you believe the following distracted driving myths, you may find you need help from a car accident attorney in the near future.

MYTH: "If my tech is hands-free, I'm fine."

Reality: Although you might think hands-free technology is safer, data shows that it isn't. Yes, you need both hands to drive safely, but you also need a focused brain. While your hands may be on the wheel and your eyes may be on the road, that doesn't mean your mind is where it should be. In fact, AAA found that sending a text via voice command can cause mental distractions for up to 27 seconds. Even if you aren't physically holding or manipulating a device, the task at hand (i.e., communicating with someone or giving directions to a device) can cause what's known as "inattention blindness." This inattention blindness can cause drivers to not see what's right in front of them. Carnegie Mellon researchers found that inattention blindness caused by the use of hands-free tech and hand-held phones can cause you to miss half of all the visual cues around you.

MYTH: "Hey, it's not like I'm drinking and driving."

Reality: The idea that distracted driving is always less dangerous than drunk driving is completely false. In fact, a University of Utah study found that drivers who used cell phones while driving had slower reaction times than drivers who had a BAC of 0.08. Other studies have found that distracted drivers are approximately six times more likely to cause crashes than drunk drivers are, and federal data shows that distracted drivers cause about one-quarter of car accidents in the United States. While it's understandable that you might think intoxicated driving is more dangerous (and in case of extreme intoxication, this may be true) , many car accident lawyers will tell you that this isn't always the case.

MYTH: "I'm great at multitasking, so what's the harm?"

Reality: No matter how much our society values the ability to multitask, the truth is that it's actually not possible. When it comes to "thinking tasks," our brains cannot do two things at once. When you're watching TV while you're on the phone, you literally cannot focus equally on both tasks. The same goes for holding a conversation and driving. To be both efficient and safe, you need to focus on only one thing at a time.

MYTH: "Reading a text takes only a second or two."

Reality: It may feel like you can read a text message in a split second, but it actually takes much longer than you think. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, sending or reading a text requires five seconds of visual focus. That means for at least five seconds, your eyes will be off the road. If you're driving at speeds of 55 miles per hour, the NHTSA equates that to driving the length of a football field with your eyes shut. Think about all the damage you could cause in that time. Is sending or answering that text really worth the huge risk? In almost every case, that message can wait.

It can be extremely difficult to resist the lure of the smartphone, even when we know we should. But one of the best ways to mitigate the risks of distracted driving is to keep your gadgets tucked away for the entirety of your drive. If you do need to use your tech, pull over in a safe area and park before using your gadgets. Otherwise, you could easily get into an accident and require legal representation.

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