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Study Suggests Cell Phone Notifications as Distracting as Texting

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distracted driving, cell phone, Illinois personal injury attorneyOver the last several years, advocacy groups and lawmakers have worked together to educate the public on the dangers of distracted driving, particular in regard to texting while driving. Even wireless service carriers like Verizon and AT&T have joined the conversation to eliminate unnecessary driver distractions, and to reduce the number of distracted-driving accidents each year. A new study suggests, however, that a mobile device can cause serious distractions even when it is not in your hand or in your field of view.

You've Got Mail, or a Call, or a Text

According to researchers at Florida State University, cell phone notifications are enough to pull a driver's focus away from operating the vehicle. In fact, the study found that the distractive effects of simply hearing an alert were comparable to actually using the device for voice conversation or to send text messages. “The level of how much it affected the task at hand was really shocking,” said FSU research coordinator Courtney Yenhert, a contributor to the project.

Published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, the study made some very interesting observations on the psychological and attentional impact of waiting and anticipation. Many people, it seems, are affected by mere thought of someone trying to reach them by text, email, or phone. Participants in the study were found to be three times more likely to make a mistake in an attention-demanding computer task after receiving—not responding to—an unexpected cell phone notification than those who did not receive such an alert.

Distracted and Dangerous

A study such as this one cannot pinpoint exactly what causes the distraction. It may be the idle wondering about the nature or importance of the alert, or possibly the mental reminder to check on the notification at some future point. Whatever the case, all it takes is a single moment of inattention and the results can be catastrophic. With more than 3,000 people killed and over 400,000 injured every year in distracted driving accidents, simply turning the phone off may be the safest option.

If you or a family member has been injured in an accident involving a distracted driver, you deserve quality representation from a team of attorneys who understand how to get results. Contact the experienced Joliet personal injury lawyers at the Law Offices of Tedone and Morton, P.C. today for a free consultation. We will review your case and can go right to work in the pursuit of compensation for your injuries.


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