Can a Driver Who Causes a Crash While Using Hands-Free Technology Be Liable?
Using a car’s Bluetooth, headphones or some other type of hands-free technology behind the wheel has made people feel more comfortable talking on the phone while driving. However, this could still increase the chances of a collision, since the driver might be distracted by the conversation with the person on the phone.
If the driver talking on the phone, even while using hands-free technology, causes a crash, he or she could be liable for your damages.
Call our auto crash lawyers in New Jersey today to discuss your claim. The consultation is free, and there are no upfront fees.
Below, we discuss what New Jersey law says about hands-free technology, why it still poses a serious risk for an accident and how a driver may be held liable if a crash occurs.
What Does New Jersey Law Say About Hands-Free Technology?
According to the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (NJMVC), talking on the phone while using hands-free technology is not illegal, but it is discouraged.
Drivers who use a hand-held device behind the wheel can be fined $200 for the first offense and $400 for a second offense. A third offense could result in a fine of at least $600, a 90-day driver’s license suspension and three motor vehicle penalty points.
The only time a driver may use a handheld phone behind the wheel is if there is an emergency and he or she keeps one hand on the steering wheel.
What Are the Dangers of Hands-Free Technology While Driving?
Drivers might think using hands-free technology to talk on the phone is safe because both hands are on the wheel. However, talking on the phone, even while using something like Bluetooth, could be distracting in its own way.
Holding a full-blown conversation with someone on the phone takes a driver’s cognitive attention off the road. This could result in a driver:
- Forgetting to stop at an intersection
- Failing to see a pedestrian in a crosswalk
- Forgetting to check blind spots before changing lanes
- Turning onto a one-way road
A driver who is talking on the phone may also drive slower than other traffic while in the left lane. This is against New Jersey’s Revised Statute § 39:4-82, which states drivers may only use the left lane when passing another vehicle or making a left turn.
Depending on how into the conversation a driver is, he or she might also take his or her hands off the steering wheel, which is also dangerous.
Some drivers whose vehicles do not have Bluetooth capabilities may resort to using headphones while driving. This could be even more dangerous than using Bluetooth because the driver’s hearing could be distorted by the headphones, even if he or she only has one headphone in. The driver could miss the sound of an emergency vehicle approaching or honking from another vehicle to alert him or her of something.
Hands-Free Technology vs Talking to a Passenger
A driver who causes an accident while using hands-free technology may try to argue that talking on the phone is no different than talking to a passenger in his or her vehicle. However, this may not be true.
When you have a passenger in your vehicle, you have a second set of eyes to look out for potential hazards on the road. Even if you are having a full-blown conversation, the passenger may be able to warn you about a vehicle that is braking suddenly up ahead.
Additionally, a passenger is present in the vehicle, so he or she will see what the driver sees. That means he or she may stop talking and let the driver focus when heavier traffic is encountered.
Talking to a passenger may be distracting in its own way, but it is not generally more distracting or dangerous than talking on the phone.
How Can a Lawyer Prove a Driver Was Distracted While Using Hands-Free Technology?
If you suspect a driver was on the phone before he or she crashed into you, your attorney may be able to speak to the people who witnessed the collision. That is why you should exchange contact information with others at the scene of the crash. An eyewitness may be able to testify whether he or she observed the driver talking on the phone.
In cases when a lawsuit is filed, your attorney may be able to subpoena the other driver’s phone records to prove he or she was using the phone at the time of the collision.
Call Us Today
If you were injured in a crash caused by a driver who was using his or her phone, even while using hands-free technology, you may be eligible for compensation.
Our experienced lawyers can review the facts of your case to determine what legal options may be available to you.
Call 800-518-0508 to schedule your free consultation today.