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Cognitive distraction behind the wheel nothing to sneeze at

Patricia M. Jarzobski

In our last post, we spoke about the issue of distracted driving and the need to continue addressing the problem from various angles. Many states, in an attempt to fight distracted driving, as readers know, have passed bans not only on texting but on all use of hand-held devices while driving. Colorado is not among those states, at least not yet.

One of the growing realizations among regulators, law enforcement officers and car manufacturers is that, while the degree of distraction presented by hand-held devices while driving is significant, drivers can be incredibly distracted by hands-free devices as well. The issue of cognitive distraction is an important one which needs to be looked into further to improve highway safety. 

Research on the issue of cognitive distraction by AAA has looked at the relative degree of cognitive distraction presented by various activities. On a scale of 1 to 5, using social media sites registered a 4, while hands-free use registered a 2.27 and speech-to-text systems came in at 3.06. Clearly, these activities can result in significant cognitive distraction, which can lead to poor driving and highway accidents.

The key thing for all drivers, regardless of the specific laws a state has with respect to distracted driving, is to make good choices while operating a motor vehicle. Motorists can be held personally liable for injuries and deaths they cause as a result of negligent driving, and victims should always work with an experienced attorney when seeking damages in such cases.  

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