It’s clear that cellphone use in the car is a major distraction. For professional drivers in 80,000-pound trucks, they’re not allowed to use their phones while driving in order to prevent accidents.
Of course, drivers who are working for a living do need to be able to communicate. To do so, they’re allowed to use hands-free devices. These may use one-button dialing systems. Other drivers just use voice-activated dialing. With modern smartphones, you can often activate the digital assistant with a key phrase and then simply tell it who to call.
This makes sense on a lot of levels. It does away with the manual distraction of holding a cellphone. It keeps the driver’s eyes on the road. In theory, this helps to reduce the number of accidents that happen every year.
The problem, though, is that drivers still face mental distractions. That phone conversation still takes mental energy. The driver is not as focused on the road as they would be otherwise.
For instance, imagine that a driver wants to know where to make a pickup. They think they have the right location, but they call to confirm and find out that it’s the wrong one. Now they’re thinking about who told them the wrong information, where they actually need to go, how that alters the driving plan, how it may impact their scheduling, what that means for the delivery and how all of this can impact the amount of work they get done and the money they earn.
In short, hands-free devices can still lead to distraction. Those who get injured by distracted drivers must know what legal steps to take.