A hands-free device is a type of technology that allows users to interact with electronic devices without the need for physical contact. This can include voice-activated systems, motion sensors, or other sensor technologies that interpret commands or gestures. In the context of driving, a hands-free device enables motorists to use their phones or other gadgets without taking their hands off the wheel.

Are Hands-Free Devices Legal to Use While Driving?

Hands-free devices are legal in West Virginia and are the only way drivers can legally use their phones or other electronic communications devices while driving. For example, Bluetooth devices or voice-activated systems can be used to make phone calls while driving. West Virginia enacted a law prohibiting drivers from using a cell phone or other communications devices in an effort to curb distracted driving.

Distracted driving has become a pressing issue and is responsible for thousands of fatalities each year. It encompasses activities that divert a driver’s attention from the road, such as texting, making phone calls, or using navigation apps. Such behaviors significantly increase the risk of collisions. A car accident lawyer in Charleston, WV can assist you if another driver’s negligent actions resulted in a crash.

Do Hands-Free Devices Decrease the Risk of Accidents?

Hands-free devices do decrease the risk of accidents on the road, according to a study performed by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. These technologies minimize distractions by allowing individuals to interact with electronic devices without manual contact. Compared to drivers who kept their eyes and undivided attention on the road and hands on the wheel, drivers who used handheld devices were at an increased risk of an accident by two to three and a half times more.

Are There Dangers Associated With Hands-Free Devices?

While hands-free devices provide a safer alternative to manual interaction with electronic devices while driving, they are not without their own set of potential dangers. Engaging in lengthy or complex conversations or even interacting with advanced voice-activated systems can still divert a driver’s cognitive attention from the road. Potential consequences of that are as follows:

  • Reduced Reaction Time: The ability to respond quickly to unexpected events on the road, such as sudden stops or obstacles, is compromised.
  • Impaired Decision-Making: Diverted attention can hinder a driver’s capacity to make sound and split-second decisions.
  • Decreased Awareness of Surroundings: Focusing on something other than driving can lead to a lack of awareness about the movement of other vehicles, pedestrians, and road conditions. This can result in unintentional lane departures, merging errors, or failure to notice important signs and signals.
  • Inaccurate Assessment of Speed and Distance: When cognitive attention is not on driving, drivers may underestimate their own speed or misjudge distances between vehicles, potentially leading to unsafe driving maneuvers.

How To Use Hands-Free Devices Safely

First and foremost, ensure that the device is set up and connected before you start driving. Keep conversations short and sweet, and try to avoid complex or emotionally charged discussions. If the technology malfunctions or misunderstands a command, remain calm and pull over if necessary. Maintaining situational awareness and prioritizing safe driving practices should always be the top priority to avoid the risk of a collision.