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Study casts doubt on hands-free safety benefits

Drivers in New Jersey and around the country are routinely warned about the dangers of using their cellphones while behind the wheel, and hands-free or wearable devices are often suggested as a safer alternative for motorists who absolutely must stay in touch while on the move. However, a study from a research team at The University of Texas suggests that even hands-free devices that are operated by voice commands may be just as distracting to drivers as normal cellphones.

The researchers gave 20 student volunteers a standard cellphone and a Google Glass device and placed them in a driving simulator equipped with three display screens, a steering wheel and pedals. They then used the two devices to send and respond to text messages. The researchers were originally noticed that the students drove more safely when using the Google Glass device, but these benefits were short-lived.

Google Glass is a wearable electronic device that looks like a pair of glasses. The device is operated by voice commands and projects images and text onto the glass. This allows drivers to read and respond to text messages without taking their eyes off the road or their hands off the wheel. However, the researchers soon learned that the students became emboldened by the Google Glass device and chose to use it far more often, which, according to researchers, effectively eliminated the initial safety benefit.

Distracted driving kills several Americans every day according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and experienced personal injury attorneys will likely have represented individuals who suffered catastrophic injuries in car accidents caused by this negligent and dangerous behavior. Distracted driving accident victims often require months or even years of painful physical therapy and costly medical treatment, and attorneys may consult with medical specialists and experts when preparing these cases to ensure that the compensation being sought is sufficient to cover long-term expenses.

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