Hands-Free Apps Are Not Distraction-Free, Tampa Car Accident Attorney Explains
Technology meant to make travel easier may be contributing to the sharp rise in car accidents in Florida and across the U.S. A new study notes that smartphone apps and features are distracting drivers - especially gig workers and parents.
Gig-economy workers, like DoorDash, GrubHub, Uber, and Lyft drivers, are 4 times as likely as other drivers to use apps regularly while driving, according to new Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) research. And parents are nearly 50 percent more prone to regularly using their smartphones to make video calls and check things like the weather and maps while driving.
"The explosion of smartphone features and services has not only created new forms of driver distraction, but also a new group of rideshare and delivery drivers whose jobs require them to interact with their phones while they're on the road," IIHS President David Harkey said in a statement.
Researchers concluded that hands-free apps are not distraction-free apps. Using hands-free technology while driving may be giving drivers and lawmakers a false sense of safety, the IIHS said.
Distracted driving in Florida
Distracted driving killed more than 3,000 people in 2020, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). That means a lack of focus on the road was a factor in 8 percent of all fatal car accidents that year.
In Tampa, distracted driving caused a fatal 6-vehicle pileup on the I-275 Howard Frankland Bridge over the summer.
Car accidents due to distracted driving are almost always preventable. When someone's lack of focus causes damage to another person, the at-fault driver is liable for victims' medical expenses, lost wages, and other losses. But to win maximum compensation, the injured crash victims must prove the at-fault driver was negligent. This can be tricky with distracted driving cases unless you have an experienced Florida car accident attorney who understands the technology and how to obtain the right evidence.
Armando Personal Injury Law has handled many distracted driving cases. We know what it takes to win car accident claims in Florida. If you were injured or a loved one died in a Florida distracted driving car accident, contact us for a free case evaluation to learn more about how we can help you.
Distracted driving research and statistics
While voice-activation software is typically preferable over physically using apps, researchers noted, the technology can still be distracting. Hands-free systems, as most drivers know, are often not completely "hands-free" and may require you to focus on the tech to scroll through contact lists or ads, for example.
The IIHS study delivered many interesting facts about how apps influence drivers. Here are some key points from the IIHS report, which surveyed about 2,000 drivers:
- About two-thirds of drivers said they drove distracted within the last 30 days.
- Half of the drivers say they perform at least one smartphone or device-based task during most drivers. The most common was programming a navigation app, followed by making phone calls, streaming music, and reading texts.
- About 8 percent of drivers said they regularly play games on their devices while driving.
- Most drivers say they use the hands-free feature for device-based activities while driving. About 8 out of 10 drivers say they regularly use voice activation to get driving directions. About 7 out of 10 use voice commands to read, listen to, and send texts or other messages.
- Younger drivers between the ages of 18 and 34 were more likely to use smartphone apps while driving than people ages 35-49. Researchers were surprised to find that parents who have a child or children under age 18 were 65 percent more prone to device-based distraction than other drivers.
- Gig workers are 4 times more likely to use apps while driving compared to other drivers. This is in part due to the fact that gig workers use apps to find work and communicate travel. However, researchers discovered that gig workers are doing a lot more on their phones than communicating with customers and navigating locations. The study suggests gig workers are more likely to be distracted - even when not using their phones for work - because they spend so much time behind the wheel and can get bored waiting or looking for work.
Hands-free apps can distract drivers.
At a time when states are passing laws that restrict smartphone use by drivers, the IIHs study shines a light on the risks that come with using hands-free devices and apps while driving. Many states, including Florida, have banned the use of hand-held devices while driving but make allowances for hands-free applications. However, the study shows this may not be an entirely safe solution.
Armando Personal Injury Law knows that, above all else, the law says that drivers must operate their vehicles safely. If they fail to do this for any reason, it can be negligent driving. Therefore, those who cause accidents must be held accountable for their recklessness. That's where we come in.
If you were injured or a loved one died in a car accident in Florida, contact us for a free case evaluation. Our law firm is based in Tampa, and we serve injured accident victims and the families of fatal accident victims throughout the state.
Don't delay. A statute of limitations applies to car accident claims and lawsuits. Contact us to schedule your free case evaluation today.