Is a Hands-Free Cell Phone Distracting?

Distracted driving is one of the most serious threats in Las Vegas and other parts of Nevada. Motorists who fail to pay attention end up crashing into other motorists or defenseless pedestrians, causing thousands of dollars in damage. There is perhaps no greater source of distraction than cell phones. Because so many people were calling or texting while driving, Nevada passed a law severely restricting your ability to text-and-drive. Please call the Ladah Law Firm if a distracted motorist has hurt you.

Cell phone in a hands free cell phone holder.

A Hands-Free Cell Phone is Legal to Use

Nevada’s relevant law is found at section 484B.165 of the Revised Nevada Statutes The law prohibits the following when driving on a highway in our state:

  • You can’t enter text into a cell phone or other handheld communication device
  • You can’t search the internet or read data using a cell phone or handheld device
  • You can’t text or instant message using a cell phone or handheld device

However, you can use a cell phone or other device if you can communicate in a “hands free” manner. This means you can use your hand to turn the phone on or off—but that’s it. So you could have a navigational device that is mounted on the car and doesn’t require that you type anything. You can even use a hands-free cell phone to talk. But any texting is illegal while driving, because it uses your hands to do more than turn the phone on.

This law doesn’t apply to a variety of people, like firefighters or police when working. But ordinary people need to follow this law, and everyone does when they are off the job.

The law also doesn’t apply if you are riding in an autonomous vehicle. In that case, you are free to text away to your heart’s content.

A Hands-Free Cell Phone is Still Distracting

So a hands-free device is legal to operate while driving on a Nevada road. Does that mean it’s not distracting?

Here are the facts. Hands-free devices still cause distraction. There is plenty of research that shows having a conversation with someone causes “cognitive” distraction. That means your hands are free and your eyes are on the road—but your mind might be too distracted to really process what you are seeing. Someone still thinking over conversation might fail to really process that a car is coming in their direction or that the light up ahead is red.

In fact, one study found that someone remained cognitively distracted for up to half a minute after completing a conversation. That’s a long time!

Furthermore, even hands-free conversations could encourage a driver to take their eyes off the road. For example, you might be talking to your mother, who asks you what the weather is like. You look out the window up at the sky—and fail to see a pedestrian trying to cross the street.

Distraction is distraction: it’s that simple.

Will Cell Phone Use Impact Your Car Accident Case?

Yes. Nevada’s comparative negligence law will reduce your compensation by any degree of fault you have for the crash. So if you were sending a text, you have not only broken the law, you have also been negligent. That means less compensation for your injuries, even if another motorist hit you. Suddenly, instead of getting $60,000 for your broken arm and concussion, you might only get half that.

The same principle applies even if you are using a hands-free device. It’s legal, but you might have been distracted nonetheless. As a result, you could end up receiving less compensation for your injuries suffered in a car crash.

And don’t think of lying. The other side in any car accident case will request copies of your cell phone records. They can see with precision when you were on the phone, so they will know if you were tapping out a text while flying down the highway.

Let Ladah Law Help You

Car accidents in and around Las Vegas are complicated. The reality is that many drivers were at least somewhat distracted in the seconds before a collision. There’s a lot going on in our city, and it’s the rare person who can filter out all the lights and noise.

Even if you were partially at fault, you can still probably receive compensation. Don’t assume you can’t. Our law firm will review the facts in a free consultation to see if filing an insurance claim makes sense. Contact us at (702) 252-0055 for more information from one of our lawyers.