New York City Personal Injury Law Blog

Distracted Driving Comes With a Hangover Effect

Posted on Jun 14, 2017 in Car Accidents, Catastrophic Injuries

New York City catastrophic injury lawyers have helped many victims and their families in recent years after those victims were hurt in distracted driving collisions. Distracted driving has become more common and far more deadly in recent years as an ever-increasing number of motorists use electronic devices while operating their vehicles.

Unfortunately, new evidence continues to arise about distracted driving dangers- including reports from an AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study suggesting that drivers could experience a “hangover” effect from using voice-to-text devices while they are driving.

Drivers Stay Distracted After Using Voice-Controlled Devices

Hands-free devices were once thought to be relatively safer than handheld devices for motorists to use while driving, but mounting evidence indicates this is not the case. CNBC reported recently on the new AAA Foundation study that identified the “hangover” effect.

According to the AAA study, the “hangover” effect refers to the fact that the brain stays distracted for as long as 27 seconds after a driver has used talk-to-text. Talk-to-text allows a driver to speak text that he wants typed. This could give the driver the ability to update social media, to send emails or text, or to initiate telephone calls.

If drivers perform any of these tasks, it takes time for the brain to switch back to focusing on operating the vehicle. In the approximately 27-seconds that it could take for a driver to change his focus back to driving, the motorist could suffer from “inattention blindness.”  Inattention blindness means that the driver does not physically see what is in front of his eyes. He may not see, for example, that some other nearby motorist has pulled into the intersection because the driver’s brain is still focused on the text he just spoke aloud into his phone.

While car manufacturers have alleged that voice-activated technologies reduce distracted driving accident risks, this new AAA research could call these assertions into question.  Past research from AAA has also suggested some voice control systems can cause motorists to become unfocused from the road for a lengthy period of time.

The hangover effect means that even drivers who use their phone when stopped at a red light or when stopped in traffic are at risk of causing distracted driving collisions. Once their car starts moving again, putting the phone down isn’t going to be enough to immediately return their focus to the road. They’ll experience this “hangover effect” gap where their mind isn’t on the important task of avoiding motor vehicle collisions.

This is bad news at a time when car accident rates are rising. In 2016, there were 40,200 deaths in motor vehicle accidents, which makes 2016 the deadliest year on the road in the past 10 years.  Distracted driving is not the only reason for rising death rates – higher speed limits and more motorists driving while impaired also contributed to rising fatalities – but distracted drivers are a big contributing cause of rising fatality rates.

If a driver is distracted and causes a collision, that motorist must be held accountable. The catastrophic injury lawyers at Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff & Wolff should be consulted for help in pursuing a claim for damages against the negligent driver. Contact us today.

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