Greenville Officially Bans Texting and Driving

New Ordinance on Texting and Driving Passes in Greenville

texting and drivingAfter a thorough debate in January, the Greenville city council passed an ordinance that will ban texting and driving while in the city.

The ordinance makes exceptions for emergency workers such as EMTs, and allows the use of hands-free devices like blue tooth headsets and GPS devices while driving.

The texting and driving ban passed the council vote with ease, and will go into effect on April 1st.

Greenville Mayor Knox White said that he decided to support the ban after hearing testimony from doctors who said they had seen an increase in distracted driving accidents, injuries, and fatalities related to checking email, social media, or texting and driving on mobile devices.

One of the bill’s opponents, Tom Barilovits, said that the texting and driving bill is unconstitutional. The ban could cause more accidents as drivers pull over to text, and the ban could give police officers more reason to stop more motorists, infringing on the individual’s right to privacy.

As the texting and driving ban goes into effect, officers will issue warning tickets, then first-time offense tickets of $100 plus court costs, then $100 additional for every offense after that.

More than a dozen cities and counties in South Carolina have banned texting and driving so far this year, but none of them have passed bans on using cell phones in cars to prevent distracted driving.

Distracted Driving in South Carolina

Distracted driving includes:

  • talking on a cell phone
  • eating and drinking
  • talking to passengers
  • grooming or putting on makeup
  • reading books, newspapers, or even a map
  • using a PDA or navigation system
  • watching a video or playing on a computer or tablet
  • playing with the radio, a CD or an iPod

It’s a common occurrence to see distracted drivers cruising down South Carolina roads and interstates.  Whether the distraction is eating, putting on makeup, talking on a cellphone, or even just daydreaming, the effects of distracted driving can lead to an accident, resulting in life altering and even deadly consequences.

The statistics on distracted driving nationwide are staggering:

  • 20 percent of crashes which resulted in an injury involved a report of distracted driving
  • of the deaths in distracted related driving accidents, 995 involved a report that the driver was using a cell phone
  • in 2009, 5,474 people were killed on US roadways and an estimated additional 448, 000 were injured in crashes caused by distracted driving
  • The age group with the greatest proportion of distracted drivers involved the under 20 age group
  • Drivers who use hand held devices are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves
  • using a cell phone while driving, whether its hand held or hands-free, delays a driver’s reactions as much as having a BAC of .08, the legal limit!

The Strom Law Firm Helps Those Injured by Distracted Drivers

If you have been injured by a distracted driver, the South Carolina accident attorneys at the Strom Law Firm, L.L.C. will fight for fair compensation for your injuries. Our South Carolina car accident lawyers are prepared to fight for compensation in the courtroom and will defend your right to compensation for your past and future medical bills, lost wages and future earnings, your pain and suffering, and, in the event of a fatal car accident, even wrongful death. Our attorneys offer free, confidential consultations to discuss the facts of your personal injury case for distracted driving, so contact us today. 803.252.4800.

Toyota Found Not Guilty in Wrongful Death Vehicle Acceleration Lawsuit

Toyota

Elderly Defendant, Not Toyota, Responsible for Vehicle Acceleration in Wrongful Death Lawsuit

ToyotaOn Thursday, October 10th, a Los Angeles jury declared Toyota not liable for the death of an elderly woman, whose family’s wrongful death lawsuit was the first bellwether case in a long line of personal injury cases related to vehicle acceleration problems.

Noriko Uno’s wrongful death lawsuit was the first bellwether case in a group of about 85 personal injury and wrongful death cases against the vehicle manufacturer. Allegedly, Toyota’s Camry model, including the 2006 model Mrs. Uno drove, had vehicle acceleration problems that went unaddressed for years before Toyota finally recalled 10 million vehicles in 2009 and 2010. Initially, Toyota claimed the acceleration problems were due to a sticky floor mat, which could shift out of position and force the gas pedal down. Later, however, the manufacturer discovered that the brake override system could cause sudden acceleration problems.

Uno’s family sought $20 million in damages, claiming that Toyota could have prevented Uno’s 2009 death if they had properly installed the brake override system. In August 2009, Mrs. Uno was in her Camry running errands, when an elderly driver ran a stop sign and hit the side of her car. The Camry spun out of control, and according to reports, Mrs. Uno’s foot became stuck between the brake and the gas pedal. Because the brake override system was not properly installed, her car accelerated rather than stopping, and the vehicle continued to drive for half a mile, with the driver attempting desperately to avoid oncoming traffic. Finally losing control of the car, Mrs. Uno’s Camry hit a tree, and the woman died on impact in the second crash.

However, the now 90-year-old defendant in the case – who hit Mrs. Uno after running a stop sign – was found liable for Uno’s wrongful death, not the vehicle manufacturer. Toyota claimed it was impossible for Mrs. Uno’s foot to remain stuck between the gas and brake pedals for 30 seconds, and there was no substantial evidence that this caused the accident.

The 90-year-old defendant was ordered to pay $10 million in damages in the wrongful death case.

“As an important bellwether in these consolidated state proceedings, we believe this verdict sets a significant benchmark by helping further confirm that Toyota vehicles are safe with or without brake override,” Toyota spokeswoman Carly Schaffner said.

“Regarding the verdict, we are gratified that the jury concluded the design of the 2006 Camry did not contribute to this unfortunate accident, affirming the same conclusion we reached after more than three years of careful investigation — that there was nothing wrong with the vehicle at issue in this case,” Toyota said in a statement on Thursday.

More bellwether wrongful death and personal injury cases are pending against Toyota, which did admit in the 10 million vehicle recall that there was a problem with the braking system that could cause sudden acceleration.

The Strom Law Firm Can Help with Vehicle Recall Wrongful Death Cases

If you have experienced a problem with a defective product in your automobile, especially if a defective part has led to an auto accidentpersonal injury, or wrongful death, and a proper vehicle recall notice has not been issued, you may be entitled to compensation. The attorneys at the Strom Law Firm can help. We can help you with complicated auto insurance claims, and make sure you receive the compensation you deserve to help you with lost income and medical bills. Our attorneys are licensed to practice in South Carolina, Georgia, and New York. We offer free, confidential consultations to discuss the facts of your case, so contact us today at (803) 252-4800.

Charleston, SC Passes Texting and Driving Ban

texting and driving

City of Charleston Officially Bans Texting and Driving, Plans to Educate Drivers

texting and drivingThe City of Charleston passed a ban on texting and driving on Tuesday, October 8th. However, the council noted that there will need to be time to educate drivers about the new ban.

Police Chief Greg Mullen said that the council and local police will, over the next 30 days, put up signs, moveable message boards, and other media to advertise the new legislation. After that, another month will be dedicated to enforcement through warnings. Around December, strict cracking down on texting and driving will begin, with $100 tickets issued to violators.

Using a mobile phone to dial and talk is not covered in the legislation, only use of text messages or written media.

Chief Mullen said he will also spend time working with his department on learning the parameters of the new texting and driving ordinance. Officers must have a clear and unobstructed view of a suspected driver’s actions, which include “excessively manipulating the phone” without bringing the device to the ear. Police must establish enough probable cause to stand up in court.

Charleston’s texting and driving ordinance specifically says that a driver cannot look down to scroll through their e-stored music, use the phone’s GPS application while moving around town (unless GPS coordinates have been inserted into the phone before departure), and the driver cannot take and/or send photographs.

“Viewing, taking, or transmitting images, playing games, or composing, sending, reading, viewing, accessing, browsing, transmitting, saving or retrieving email, text messages, or other electronic data” are outlawed, the ordinance says.

The texting and driving ordinance has expanded the definition of “vehicle” to bikes, buses, golf carts, skateboards, mopeds, horse carriages, and rickshaws. Exemptions from the law are hands-free devices, and stationary and parked vehicles, as well as a driver attempting to contact 911 or emergency services.

When the texting and driving ordinance kicks in fully in December, officers will no longer have to pull over drivers for a secondary offence. Additionally, courts can subpoena a device’s use records during court cases.

The City of Charleston joins Beaufort County and Hilton Head Island in anti-texting and driving legislation.

A larger state ban on texting and driving is still pending, after it did not pass in 2012. Rep. Don Bowen of Anderson County, who has been pushing such legislation for two years, says he is confident the ban could pass this year.

“We’re hoping by putting the teeth back into the bill, and the awareness has become so much greater than it has in the past, that this time we won’t have the opposition that we’ve had to it,” said Bowen.

“The problem is that it’s going to require an officer that pulls you over to take your phone, and go through your phone to figure out what you were doing,” said Rep. Todd Rutherford of Richland County. “Because dialing on a cell phone and texting on a cell phone, how is the officer going to know the difference?”

The Strom Law Firm Prosecutes Texting and Driving

If you have been injured by a distracted driver, including one who was texting and driving, the attorneys at the Strom Law Firm can help. Our South Carolina car accident lawyers are prepared to fight for compensation in the courtroom and will defend your right to compensation for your past and future medical bills, lost wages and future earnings, your pain and suffering, and, in the event of a fatal car accident, even wrongful death. We offer free consultations to discuss the facts of your case, so do not hesitate to contact us. 803.252.4800.

Charleston Considers Texting and Driving Ban

texting and driving ban

texting and drivingOne of SC’s Largest Cities Reviewing Texting and Driving Ban

The City of Charleston could see a ban on texting and driving soon.

The Charleston City Council’s Wednesday agenda noted that an ordinance will be presented that could make it illegal for drivers to text and drive, or use their smart phones for certain purposes while behind the wheel.

“I think it’s very important and hope that we can get it passed. Texting while driving is very dangerous,” said Mayor Joe Riley.

The ordinance specifies that drivers not only cannot text and drive, they cannot read text messages or emails, write emails, use digital assistants, or type on a computer while driving. If an officer pulls someone over on reasonable suspicion of texting and driving, the ordinance states that the officer would be able to subpoena cell phone records for the court hearing.

However, the ordinance does not apply to drivers who use their phones while they are stopped or parked, or while they use factory-installed GPS or wireless devices that transmit or receive data as part of a digital dispatch system. Drivers can also use voice-operated technology. The amendment would also not apply to law enforcement officers, firefighters, ambulance drivers, or others who use such mobile devices to perform official duties.

The texting and driving ban would fine those caught using mobile devices $100. If the ban passes, it would go into effect in October 2013.

Despite South Carolina’s growing enthusiasm for texting and driving bans, Clemson Police Chief Jimmy Dixon remains skeptical. “It’s not ever going to be easy to enforce. We’re not going to stop it,” he said. “It’s a constant (educational) process.”

South Carolina’s Texting and Driving Bans Becoming More Popular

A similar texting and driving ban passed the Mt. Pleasant Town Council. On Tuesday, August 13th, a preliminary vote was 6-3 in favor of the ban, but it is not official yet. The official vote will be at the town council meeting on September 10th.

In early July, the Hilton Head Island Town Council passed a texting and driving ban in a 4-to-1 vote.

The new texting and driving ban in Hilton Head says that any motorist caught reading or composing electronic messages, from Facebook to texts, within the town limits will face misdemeanor fines. The first offense is $100, the second is $200, and the third is $300. However, the measure does specifically say that drivers can still use MP3 players, GPS navigation, and hands-free options on their phones.

Assistant town manager Greg DeLoach said, “The challenge is that you can educate a lot of residents on the island, but we have 2 million visitors a year.” He said he would prefer a state-wide texting and driving ban, to make the rules clearer to all drivers.

In March, the South Carolina legislature re-introduced a texting and driving bill, sponsored by Rep. Don Bowen of Anderson County, who has been pushing such legislation for two years. In 2012, the bill did not pass, but Bowen says he is more confident the bill will pass this time around.

“We’re hoping by putting the teeth back into the bill, and the awareness has become so much greater than it has in the past, that this time we won’t have the opposition that we’ve had to it,” said Bowen.

“The problem is that it’s going to require an officer that pulls you over to take your phone, and go through your phone to figure out what you were doing,” said Rep. Todd Rutherford of Richland County. “Because dialing on a cell phone and texting on a cell phone, how is the officer going to know the difference?”

The Strom Law Firm Prosecutes Texting and Driving

If you have been injured by a distracted driver, including one who was texting and driving, the attorneys at the Strom Law Firm can help. Our South Carolina car accident lawyers are prepared to fight for compensation in the courtroom and will defend your right to compensation for your past and future medical bills, lost wages and future earnings, your pain and suffering, and, in the event of a fatal car accident, even wrongful death. We offer free consultations to discuss the facts of your case, so do not hesitate to contact us. 803.252.4800.

Driver’s Vehicular Manslaughter Charge Upgraded to Murder After Tweets

vehicular

vehicular manslaughterDriving History and Twitter Feed Led to Murder Charge After Driver Killed Cyclist

On August 14th, an 18 year old man from Pleasanton, California was taken into custody on a murder charge after an investigation into his Twitter feed and past driving history upgraded the charge from vehicular manslaughter.

Cody Matthew Hall appeared in court earlier in the week after charges from the June 9th accident were upgraded from vehicular manslaughter to murder. He is accused of the murder of Diana Hersevoort, 58. Although he walked into the courthouse with a smile on his face and surrounded by friends, the smile quickly disappeared when the judge ordered Hall taken into custody without bail.

He will be held in the Santa Rita Jail in Dublin, CA until his court appearance next month for the upgraded murder charge.

On June 9th, Hall caused an accident on a road that, observers say, is popular with cyclists on weekends. Reportedly, Hall was driving 83 mph to pass another driver, when he lost control of his SUV and accidentally hit two cyclists. Mrs. Hersevoort, who was wearing a helmet, was killed after she was thrown from her bicycle, while her husband sustained a leg injury, was taken to the hospital, and released later that day.

After the crash, Hall stopped and spoke with police, but reportedly refused to give a statement. When officials concluded their investigation in July, Hall was charged with felony vehicular manslaughter and reckless driving, and was released on bail after an initial hearing.

However, those charges were upgraded to murder after a discovery that Hall bragged on Twitter about how fast he liked to drive. “An analysis of Hall’s driving record and pattern — along with Twitter posts in which he talked about how fast he liked to drive — factored into upgrading the case to murder,” The Chronicle reports, citing local authorities.

“Drive fast live young,” reads one tweet. Another states, “Someone come on a death ride with me !!!”

Hall could now face “15 years to life on the murder charge and an additional three years and eight months for the reckless driving charge,” reports the Pleasanton Weekly. Prosecutors may use Hall’s bragging Tweets as a “pre-offensive statement” in his murder trial.

South Carolina

Unfortunately, injuries from bike accidents are very common.  Negligent drivers send several hundred thousand cyclists to the hospital every year.  Some riders protect themselves by wearing a helmet and obeying traffic laws, but sometimes that is not enough to prevent serious injury from a bike accident.

Bike accidents most often lead to:

  • Broken bones
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Head trauma, including traumatic brain injury
  • Road rash
  • And sometimes death

Whether were hit in a crosswalk, intersection, or on the road by a car following too closely, distracted driving, aggressive driving or failure to yield the right of way, the South Carolina accident lawyers at the Strom Law Firm, LLC will fight to secure fair compensation for your injuries.

The Strom Law Firm Defends Victims of Personal Injury, Manslaughter, or Murder in Accident Cases

If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a South Carolina ATV accident or a bike accident, contact the Strom Law Firm today. Whether your case involves a murder charge in a criminal investigation, or a personal injury or wrongful death case, the attorneys at the Strom Law Firm can help. The sooner you hire one of our accident lawyers, the sooner we will be able to investigate your case and the stronger your case will be. We offer free, confidential consultations to discuss the facts of your case, so do not hesitate to call us. 803.252.4800

First Acceleration-Linked Wrongful Death Bellwether Case Against Toyota Goes to Trial

ToyotaAcceleration Problems Linked to Wrongful Death and Personal Injury Go to Court with First Bellwether Case

The first lawsuit in a long line of personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits against Toyota for their notorious acceleration problem is going to trial August 8th.

About 85 personal injury and wrongful death cases have been consolidated in Los Angeles.

The first case was filed by Yasuharu Uno and his son Jeffrey, in the wrongful death of Noriko Uno, Yasuharu’s wife and Jeffrey’s mother. The father and son claim that Toyota is liable for her wrongful death because they did not install a brake override system in the 2006 Camry that Mrs. Uno, 66 at the time, was driving when it suddenly accelerated, sped through oncoming traffic, and hit a tree. Brake override systems make the engine idle when both the gas and brake pedals are hit simultaneously.

According to the family’s attorneys, the fifth-generation Camry, like the model Mrs. Uno drove, had a 400% increase in accidental acceleration problems, compared to other Camrys.

“Toyota knew this,” Garo Mardirossian, the family’s lawyer, said in a court filing.  “Toyota did nothing to remedy this. Rather, it recalled and added brake override to the 2007 Toyota Camry, but left Mrs. Uno’s Toyota Camry on the roadways unsafe and without brake override.”

Toyota has already settled economic loss allegations with US drivers for unintended acceleration problems after the recall of 10 million vehicles in 2009 and 2010, which the manufacturer claimed were related to a faulty floor mat, which could shift out of position and cause the gas pedal to stick.

The Accident That Led to the Wrongful Death Lawsuit

On August 28th, 2009, Noriko Uno was out running errands when her Camry was struck by an elderly driver, who is also a defendant in the case. When the Camry spun after the impact, Mrs. Uno’s foot became stuck between the gas and the brake pedal. Because her vehicle did not have a brake override system, the car accelerated out of control and after half a mile of avoiding oncoming traffic, she hit a tree. She died in the second crash.

Toyota, however, claims it is impossible for Mrs. Uno’s foot to have been lodged between the gas and brake pedals for 30 seconds. There is also no substantial evidence that this supposed event caused the accident.

“Approximately 14 witnesses observed Uno as she traveled in the wrong direction,” Toyota said in its memorandum to the court. “Thirteen witnesses testified they never saw brake lights on the Camry, and the only witness who said she saw brake lights, said she saw the Camry brake lights go on for a second then off, then on and off again.”

The manufacturer claims that the fatal accident occurred because Mrs. Uno unintentionally stepped on the gas rather than the brake pedal. Toyota said that unintended acceleration is almost always the driver’s fault for stepping on the wrong pedal.

The Strom Law Firm Can Help with Vehicle Recall Wrongful Death Cases

If you have experienced a problem with a defective product in your automobile, especially if a defective part has led to an auto accident, personal injury, or wrongful death, and a proper vehicle recall notice has not been issued, you may be entitled to compensation. The attorneys at the Strom Law Firm can help. We can help you with complicated auto insurance claims, and make sure you receive the compensation you deserve to help you with lost income and medical bills. Our attorneys are licensed to practice in South Carolina, Georgia, and New York. We offer free, confidential consultations to discuss the facts of your case, so contact us today at (803) 252-4800.

SC Sees First Texting and Driving Bans

shutterstock_125832584Municipalities Across Beaufort County Ban or Restrict Texting and Driving

Although South Carolina is currently one of three states in the country that does ban texting and driving, the state could see a no texting and driving law on the books very soon.

In early July, the Hilton Head Island Town Council passed a texting and driving ban in a 4-to-1 vote. Although the ban went into effect immediately, law enforcement officers are first undergoing training. Once that is complete, officers will begin to educate “the general public with traffic stops,” and then the law will be fully enacted.

Continue reading “SC Sees First Texting and Driving Bans”

Hyundai Airbag Lawsuit Lands Traumatic Brain Injury Victim $14 Million

shutterstock_138514883Victim and His Family Awarded $14 Million After Traumatic Brain Injury Personal Injury Lawsuit

In 2010, then-16-year-old Zachary Duncan ran his car off the road and into a tree, causing a severe traumatic brain injury. He and his family sued Hyundai Motor Corp after the accident because the side airbags failed to deploy.

Now, the jury awarded the family $14 million in damages, because Hyundai’s vehicle was “unreasonably dangerous.”

According to news reports at from 2010, Duncan ran his car off the right side of the road when he sped up, trying to get around his friend’s car in front of him. Duncan hit a snow bank, rolled down the hill, and collided with a tree. The passenger in his Hyundai Triburon was fine, but Duncan slammed his head into the roof rail, causing traumatic brain damage.

In the last three years, Duncan has had to re-learn to walk and talk. He has a difficult time making eye contact. His parents have paid more than $100,000 for his medical expenses. During the lawsuit, his attorney claimed that the traumatic brain damage never would have occurred if the airbag sensor would have worked, and the side airbags deployed.

Hyundai has issued a series of recalls related to faulty airbag sensors. “Hopefully, this will cause automobile manufacturers to really make sure they’re putting safe vehicles on the road,” said Duncan’s attorney in his closing statements.

Hyundai Will Appeal Traumatic Brain Injury Lawsuit Verdict

Although Hyundai admits that there have been problems with airbag sensors in their vehicles, the company says that they disagree with the jury’s decision in the traumatic brain injury lawsuit, and they plan to appeal it.

“While we are sympathetic to this young man and his family, the facts are that (Zachary) Duncan rolled his car into a tree. The roof was crushed by the tree and impacted his head,” said Hyandai spokesman Jim Trainor. “No side airbag in the world would have prevented his injury.”

Hyundai discontinued making Triburons in 2008, and has issued recalls for Triburon model years 2003 to 2008 because of faulty airbag sensors. However, Trainor noted that 2008 model year Triburons – like the one Duncan drove – surpassed federal safety standards, and were awarded four stars in federal side impact crash tests.

The Strom Law Firm Can Help Traumatic Brain Injury Victims

Traumatic brain injuries occur when the head suddenly and violently hits an object, or when an object pierces the skull and enters brain tissue.

Traumatic brain injury may be the result of a:

For many victims, a traumatic brain injury is not immediately noticeable. A great amount of force does not need to be applied to sustain a head injury.

If you or a loved one have suffered a traumatic brain injury as the result of an accident, defective product, or negligence, the Strom Law Firm can help. We understand the emotional and financial impact of serious personal injuries. Our firm offers free consultations to discuss the facts of your case, so do not hesitate to contact us. 803.252.4800.

Wrongful Death Lawsuits Filed in BUI Crash from 2010

shutterstock_141571273Families of Victims of Boating Accident in 2010 File Wrongful Death Lawsuits

In May 2010, three friends decided to go camping on an island in Lake Murray late at night. However, the camping trip ended in a deadly crash, killing two of the three boat’s passengers when the boat collided with a second boat on the lake. Now, the victims’ families are filing wrongful death lawsuits against both boat’s drivers. The wrongful death lawsuits were filed this spring by Mary Howk and Lynn Leggette, who allege that their sons’ deaths were caused by recklessness and carelessness on the part of Steven Miller, the victims’ friend, and the other boat driver, David Porth. Both Miller and Porth deny responsibility for the victims’ deaths. However, in 2010, both boat drivers were charged with BUI. Miller faces two counts of felony boating under the influence (BUI), and authorities say that his boat was not displaying the proper lighting required at night. Porth faces one count of felony BUI. So far, no other criminal charges, such as manslaughter, have been levied against either Miller or Porth. The families’ wrongful death lawsuits allege that both boats were speeding, out of control, and failed to yield to each other, leading to the fatal accident. Prosecutors in the case hope to settle the wrongful death lawsuits by the end of the year. “We’ve been working on getting all the parties together,” said Nicole Holland, spokeswoman for the 5th Circuit Solicitor’s office.

Wrongful Death Lawsuits in South Carolina

The unexpected loss of a loved is a very painful experience.  While mourning their loss, surviving family members are often with mounting medical bills, the loss of an income, and sudden expenses such as hospital bills and funeral costs. If a loved one dies as a result of the negligence, reckless, or intentional conduct of another, you may be entitled to bring a claim for wrongful death. A wrongful death lawsuit asserts a claim against a person who can be held legally responsible for a death.  Surviving family members may be entitled to damages; money that can help with the expenses caused by the loss of their loved one. Common wrongful death claims arise as a result of a:

A South Carolina wrongful death lawsuit seeks compensation for:

  • Medical bills and funeral expenses
  • Loss of income
  • Loss of consortium and loss of support.

Depending upon the circumstances, our South Carolina wrongful death attorneys may also assert a claim for punitive damages intended to punish the wrongdoer and deter others from engaging in such behavior

The Strom Law Firm Can Help With Wrongful Death Cases

The wrongful death lawyers at the Strom Law Firm, LLC, will help you during this extremely difficult and emotional time. You do not have to face the emotional and financial pain of a loved one’s wrongful death alone. If you or a loved one has been injured or killed through no fault of your own, contact the South Carolina wrongful death attorneys at the Strom Law Firm, LLC today for a free, no-cost consultation today. 803.252.4800

Hands-Free Devices for Texting and Driving Still Risky

shutterstock_74278003AAA Study Finds Hands-Free Texting and Driving Technology Still Risky

The latest in technology – voice-activated programs in cars that allow drivers to text or write emails with voice commands instead of with their hands – was marketed as very safe, much safer than texting and driving with the phone in your hands. However, a new study from AAA finds that regardless of the technology, the practice still creates distracted drivers and is therefore still dangerous.

Researchers released study findings on Wednesday, June 12th. They discovered that hands-free technologies are not significantly safer than hand-held devices. Speech-to-text systems, which allow users to write and send emails and texts, as well as scroll through or delete messages, require greater concentration from drivers than other distracting activities like talking on the phone or to a passenger, or listening to music or a book on tape.

According to the study, the greater the concentration required to perform a task, the more likely the driver is to develop “tunnel vision” or “inattention blindness.” Rather than scanning the roadway or checking their mirrors, drivers look straight ahead, but fail to see objects, stop lights, or people in front of them.

“People aren’t seeing what they need to see to drive. That’s the scariest part to me,” said Peter Kissinger, president and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, the group’s safety research arm. “Police accident investigative reports are filled with comments like the ‘looked, but did not see.’ That’s what drivers tell them. We used to think they were lying, but now we know that’s actually true.”

“We believe there is a public safety crisis looming,” AAA spokeswoman Yolanda Cade said. “We hope this study will change some widely held misconceptions by motorists.”

AAA officials took their findings to automakers, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and other safety advocates. AAA suggested that in-vehicle, voice or manual commands should be limited strictly to “core driving tasks.”

The study conducted by AAA is not the first to compare the two methods of texting and driving, and other tests have come up with similar results. However, the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration study, conducted using drivers’ real-world driving experiences, found that using hands-free devices to text and drive was safer than hands-on.

David Strayer, an expert on cognitive distraction and lead author of the study, which was conducted by the University of Utah on behalf of AAA, said that the difference between speaking to a computer and speaking to a person was the computer’s ability to understand commands. Although the study used a very high-fidelity system which made no errors, humans had to know the exact commands, such as “Call Home,” and not misinterpret the command as “Call Home Depot.” Most systems currently in vehicles are not so good at comprehending human voices, Strayer pointed out. He added that synthetic computer voices are harder for people to understand, which meant people had to focus much harder on the computer’s voice, drawing attention away from the road.

“The complexity of trying to say something that is coherent when there is no feedback is much more difficult,” Strayer said. “The more complex and the longer those interactions are, the more likely you are going to have impairments when you’re driving.”

AT&T Hosts Campaign on Texting and Driving Dangers in Columbia

AT&T will host another part of their anti-texting and driving campaign in Columbia, SC soon.

Company representatives at AT&T restail stores will give customers and the public a chance to use a simulator that they say shows how dangerous it is to text and drive. In February this year, the company took their texting and driving simulator to the Statehouse, where both lawmakers and the public could try the device.

According to AT&T, texting and driving is extremely dangerous. Their statistics show that drivers who text and drive are 23 times more likely to be involved in an accident than non-texting drivers.

The Strom Law Firm Prosecutes Texting and Driving

If you have been injured by a distracted driver, including one who was texting and driving, the attorneys at the Strom Law Firm can help. Our South Carolina car accident lawyers are prepared to fight for compensation in the courtroom and will defend your right to compensation for your past and future medical bills, lost wages and future earnings, your pain and suffering, and, in the event of a fatal car accident, even wrongful death. We offer free consultations to discuss the facts of your case, so do not hesitate to contact us. 803.252.4800.