A study shows that drivers who use hands-free cellphones still experience a significant amount of cognitive distraction.

People who drive along busy Pennsylvania roadways should understand the dangers of distracted driving. In 2016 alone, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported 3,450 deaths involving distracted driving in the U.S. While it is not illegal to talk on a hand-held cellphone in Pennsylvania, it is in many other states across the nation. As a result, some drivers have started using hands-free cellular devices as a way to stay safe while on the road. Studies show, however, that using a hands-free cellphone is not as safe as some may think.

A look at cognitive distraction

A study published by AAA looked at the amount of cognitive distraction drivers experience while they are behind the wheel and engaged in other activities. During the study, participants were asked to drive an actual vehicle equipped with monitoring devices, as well as a simulator vehicle. As they were driving, participants were asked to engage in the following tasks:

· Listen to the radio

· Talk using a hand-held cellphone

· Talk using a hands-free device

· Maintain a conversation with a passenger in the vehicle

· Compose an email using voice-activated technology

Researchers monitored the brain activity, eye movement, heart rate and response time.

And the results are in

Not surprisingly, listening to the radio proved to be the least distracting task in the study. Researchers did find, however, that drivers experienced only slightly less distraction when they used the hands-free cellphone as opposed to the hand-held cellphone. The hands-free cellphone still caused a significant amount of cognitive distraction and could easily lead a driver to be involved in a serious car accident. The most distractive task involved participants using the voice-activated technology to compose an email.

What is cognitive distraction?

Although hands-free cellphones do not require the use of drivers' eyes or hands, they do remove peoples' minds off of the task at hand. This is known as cognitive distraction, or the distraction caused when people are not focused on what they are doing. According to the National Safety Council, the human mind cannot pay complete attention to two complex tasks at the same time. Instead, it bounces back and forth from one activity to the other. This movement leaves moments in time where the brain is not focused on driving at all. It is during these times that an accident may occur.

Picking up the pieces

If you or someone you love has been involved in a catastrophic car accident, they may have received a serious injury that could cause permanent damage. You may be entitled to compensation for your medical expenses, property damage, lost wages from time taken off of work to recover and emotional trauma. A personal injury attorney in Pennsylvania may be helpful in listening to the details of your case and pointing you in the right direction.