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The Dangers of Hands Free Cell Phone Use While Driving

Web Admin - Friday, November 28, 2014

hands free device danger, Illinois personal injury lawyerEveryone knows they should avoid texting and driving. Focusing on a smartphone screen rather than the road is a recipe for disaster, and may lead to serious accidents. This common sense principle has led Illinois to pass a law forcing drivers to only use hands free devices when they are driving. However, even though hands free cell phone use lets people keep their eyes on the road, it still does not entirely remove the distraction of speaking on the phone. Additionally, the use of hands free technology may also bring a curious piece of human psychology known as the Peltzman effect into play.

Hands Free Device Statistics

Hands free driving seems like it should make people safer, but some studies show it may actually pose even more risks. Either way, the statistics show that it can still be dangerous. For instance, even though only nine percent of drivers are using phones at any given time, these drivers are involved in 26 percent of all crashes. This is because 90 percent of crashes involve driver error rather than the environment or mechanical failures.

A lot of the problems caused by phones are a function of how the brain processes information. Although many people believe they are capable of multitasking, that is actually an illusion. The brain cannot actually perform multiple tasks at one time. Instead, the brain switches rapidly back and forth between the two tasks, but it does not do it perfectly. This means that the brain's visual processing can be reduced by up to 33 percent while on the phone. This can lead to people missing half of everything going on around them while they talk. However, that failure to multitask is not the only human mental quirk that affects this scenario.

The Peltzman Effect

People using hands free technology may also be falling victim to what economists refer to as the Peltzman effect. The Peltzman effect, which was originally identified by its namesake in the 70s, relates to the fact that people generally have a reasonably constant amount of risk they are willing to take. This can result in regulations that are designed to keep people safe actually having a diminished effect because people are then more willing to take other risks. For instance, people may feel safer when using hands free technology, so they may be more willing to drive faster or pay less attention to the road. Importantly, economists still debate how much extra risk the Peltzman effect actually encourages people to take. Although numerous studies have found evidence of its existence, the magnitude of its impact varies greatly between each study.

Distracted driving is dangerous, regardless of the distraction. If you have recently been injured by the carelessness of a distracted driver, contact a Crystal Lake personal injury attorney today. Our firm helps injured victims across the northwest suburbs in towns like Palatine, Schaumburg, Des Plaines, Rolling Meadows, Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, and Barrington.

Ken ApicellaAbout the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.

Using Rumble Strips to Prevent Crossover Accidents

Web Admin - Thursday, September 25, 2014

rumble strips safety, Deer Park traffic accident lawyerIt is a common experience for drivers heading home, especially late at night, only to veer slightly out of the lane and be jolted awake by the rumble strips guarding the center of the road. These concrete ridges, originally invented in Illinois in the 1950s, serve a valuable purpose in preventing crossover accidents. Crossover accidents are some of the most dangerous types of traffic accidents and they occur when drivers, either careless or distracted, swerve out of their lane and into oncoming traffic, resulting in a powerful, head-on collision with another car.

What Crossover Accidents Are

Crossover accidents occur when a car leaves its lane, crossing over the median and into traffic heading the other direction, resulting in a front-end collision. The physics behind these sorts of crashes makes them some of the deadliest types of accidents. The issue is one of speed. In a single car crash or even a crash into the side of another car, most of the accident's force comes from the one car's forward motion. This is not true in crossover accidents because the two cars are heading in opposite directions, so their forces both contribute to the accident. By way of example, two cars colliding in a crossover accident, each traveling 60 miles per hour, would have the same force as a single car crashing into a wall at 120 miles per hour. These sorts of violent collisions can lead to all sorts of severe injuries including whiplash, broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, and in many cases, even death.

How Rumble Strips Help

Rumble strips can be instrumental in preventing these sorts of accidents. They function as an early warning system, alerting drivers to the fact that they are leaving their lane and are about to veer dangerously into oncoming traffic. In fact, a study from the Kansas Department of Transportation and the University of Kansas reports that these sorts of safety device can reduce crossover accidents by as much as 21 percent.

There may be some circumstances in which the absence of these sorts of rumble strips can give rise to a claim against the municipality for failing to properly design or maintain the road. Although such claims are difficult to bring, there are scenarios in which a poorly designed road, such as one lacking in centerline rumble strips, could lead to a traffic accident for which the victims would have a right to recover.

If you or one of your loved ones has recently been injured in a crossover accident or some other type of crash, contact an experienced Illinois traffic accident attorney today. Our firm's team of dedicated professionals protects the rights of clients in towns across the northwest suburbs, including in Deer Park, Arlington Heights, and Crystal Lake.

About the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.


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