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Could liability exist even when using a hands-free device?

Drivers in Arizona are prohibited from using mobile devices while behind the wheel to send or read text messages. Given that distracted driving is a continuing problem, those who are found to be violating the law could be subject to fines. While a chorus has grown over the past few years bemoaning distracted driving, automakers appear as if they are part of a conundrum between fostering innovation and maintaining public safety.

After all, smartphone use has become an ingrained part of life for many. Drivers can find directions, check availability at restaurants, find cheap gas and monitor traffic statuses through their phones. Recognizing that cell phone use is a large component of distracted driving, automakers have made more hands free offerings so that drivers can keep their eyes on the road and away from their phones.

But the question remains: can hands free devices be completely safe? Moreover, can a driver still be held liable in an accidentwhere he or she was using a hands free module?

As for the first question, it is difficult to say whether “complete” safety can be achieved. After all, safety advocates believe that even with these modules, the brain can only process so much information at a time, so trying to navigate traffic while holding (and fully comprehending) a phone conversation can be difficult. Also, it is conceivable that a driver could be held liable in an accident despite using a hands free attachment depending on the circumstances. The duty of reasonable care encompasses the use of cell phones, but that by itself may not make a driver liable.

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