Although most states, including Oklahoma, prohibit drivers from texting while driving, adult drivers can still use their cellphones to make phone calls with or without hands-free devices. That said, although it is perfectly legal to use hands-free devices to make phone calls, does that mean it is safe? According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), drivers who use a handheld or hands-free device to talk on the phone have the same response time as drivers who have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08. Therefore, just because it is legal, does not mean it is safe.
WHY IS IT DANGEROUS?
Even though it is legal to use a handheld device to make a phone call in Oklahoma, some drivers might opt for using a hands-free device in the interest of safety. It might come as a surprise to many that using a hands-free device will not necessarily safeguard you against a distracted driving accident. There are a variety of hands-free devices available, including headphones, earpieces, personal phone assistants, and dashboard phone systems, but all of them will distract you on a cognitive level. If you are engaged in a particularly serious or heated conversation, focusing on the task at hand will become near impossible. You might run a red light or hit a pedestrian crossing the road.
The fact is that driving requires 100% of a driver’s attention and multitasking requires a driver to divide their attention, slowing their response time and ability to make quick decisions. If the phone call is not an emergency, you should postpone it until are safely parked. There are many forms of distracted driving and most of them are not against the law. How dangerous is distracted driving? According to the National Safety Council (NSC), about 9 people die every day and 1,000 are injured as a result of distracted driving. Distracted driving includes some of the following dangerous habits:
- Talking on the phone with or without a hands-free device
- Eating and drinking
- Reaching for objects in your vehicle
- Talking to passengers
- Adjusting a GPS
Some of these dangerous habits can distract a driver in more than one way. For example, texting while driving distracts a driver manually, visually, and cognitively, which is why it is considered one of the most dangerous activities a person can do while operating a motor vehicle. Stay safe and keep your attention on the road.
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