Godfrey, Leibsle, Blackbourn & Howarth, S.C.
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When drivers put the phone down, they are still distracted

Many drivers believe that setting the phone down eliminates the distraction of that device. For example, maybe they are at a red light when they get a text message. They look at the text because the car isn’t in motion, so it seems safe. When the light turns green, they put the phone down and start driving again, never suffering from distraction behind the wheel.

At least, that is what they believe. But studies show that this is not the case. The distraction from using a phone actually lasts for around 27 seconds, even after a person stops using that device. They may not be manually or visually distracted, but they are still cognitively distracted by thinking about that activity.

What does this mean for road safety?

The problem is that a person can’t just turn off the mental distraction. Maybe they were texting their boss about a big project that they have to do and they’re running behind. Even though they set the phone down, they’re still thinking about the project, the deadline, their boss’s reaction and maybe even the status of their career. As they start driving through the intersection, these distractions remain.

Additionally, some people will use their phones for activities that are inherently distracting. For example, studies have also found that listening to music is a form of distraction. Many drivers will hold their phone while selecting a playlist or an album and then set the phone down while the music plays. But they could still be distracted and cause a serious crash.

Have you been injured by a negligent driver who caused an accident? If so, be sure you know what legal options you have.

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