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Cellphone use in cars slows reactions of drivers

Heavy traffic in California demands the full attention of drivers, and numerous studies about distracted driving conclude that cellphone usage by drivers impedes their situational awareness. An analysis of 93 papers about driver performance under various conditions produced strong evidence that cellphone use distracted drivers. People speaking on cellphones while driving repeatedly showed a reduced ability to notice road hazards or react quickly.

Study subjects scanned their environments less often than drivers not engaged in distracting activities. They checked their rear-view mirrors less and did not look to the left or right at the same rate as people without phones. Drivers using cellphones did not take steps to increase safety because of their distraction: They did not reduce speed or leave more distance between themselves and the vehicles in front of them.

Hands-free phone use only provided modest relief from distraction. Although hands-free phones enabled people to keep their hands on the steering wheel, drivers still showed a reduced awareness of their surroundings. The distractions produced by cellphone use resulted in more collisions with other vehicles, pedestrians or other objects.

In some situations, distracted driving may qualify as negligence in the view of the law. A person hurt in a car wreck caused by someone who was distracted might pursue compensation for damages with a personal injury claim. An attorney who represents cases about motor vehicle accidents may be able to evaluate a case and provide support while making an insurance claim or filing a lawsuit. An attorney might assemble evidence about negligence before meeting with an insurance adjuster in order to produce an adequate settlement for the victim. If a victim needs to pursue the private assets of a negligent driver to pay for medical expenses, an attorney may help prepare a lawsuit against that person.

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