Category Archives: Distracted Driving

Cognitive Distraction While Driving

safety of voice command in carAccording to a recent study conducted by the University of Utah for the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, using hands-free technologies to talk, text or send email while driving is not as safe as many have believed. Driver distraction from secondary in-vehicle activities is increasingly recognized as a significant source of injuries and fatalities on the roadway.

Researches of the study measured brainwaves, eye movement and other metrics to assess what happens to a drives mental workload when they are multitasking. During the study they tested in-vehicle activities such as listening to the radio, audio book, having a conversation on a hands-free device vs. hand-held devise, speech-to-text and passenger.

They categorized the cognitive distraction from levels 1 through 5.

  • Listening to the radio or a book on tape feel in to a Category-1 level of distraction
  • A passenger in the vehicle or speaking with a friend over the phone was a Category-2 level of distraction
  • Speech-to-text was considered a Category-3 level of distraction

The research found that as mental workload and distractions increase, reaction time slows, brain function is compromised, drivers scan the road less and miss visual cues.

With the current trend towards more voice command in vehicles, the Category-3 level of cognitive distraction is troubling. Car manufacturers are presenting customers with a variety of options in their vehicles.  Such as making movie or dinner reservations, send and receiving text or email and posting on Facebook.  The research suggest that such voice-based interactions are not risk-free and can in some cases rise to a level of distraction associated with drunk driving.  The study suggests that the adoption of voice-based systems in the vehicle may have unintended consequences that adversely affect traffic safety.

The best thing we all can take from this study is to always keep our eyes on the road and avoid distractions that may keep us from focusing on our driving.

What are your thoughts on this study?  Do you think voice-based systems in vehicles are safer or cause more distraction to the driver?

Penny Hanley & Howley Insurance




National Distracted Driving Awareness Month

connecticut cell phone lawsApril is National Distracted Driving Awareness month.  Texting isn’t the only distraction when driving that can cause an accident. Other distractions include changing the radio station, answering that phone call and grabbing your coffee.  Distracted driving occurs any time you take your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel and your mind of the task of driving.

Who are the serious offenders? The youngest and most inexperienced drivers are the most at risk.  16% of all distracted driving crashes involved drivers under the age of 20 according to

Here are the laws in Connecticut regarding cell phone use while driving:

  1. Handheld ban for all drivers
  2. Ban on all cell phone use for bus drivers
  3. Ban on all cell phone use for novice drivers
  4. Ban on texting for all drivers

Fines for cell phone use in Connecticut as of October 2013

  1. First offense $150
  2. Second offense $300
  3. Each subsequent offense $500

Do you know how far your car can travel in the time to takes to send a text?  This video below from Travelers explains the dangers.

Talk with your teen drivers and explain to them the importance of not texting and driving. Set a good example by not using your cell phone while driving as well. If you need to respond to a call or text, pull over first, or what until you stop at your destination.  No call or text is worth it.  We want you to make it to your destination safely.


Penny Hanley & Howley Insurance

Protecting YOU is our Job



Don’t be a Distracted Driver

distracted drivingWe live in an era where we move quickly through our days, multi-tasking trying to get all we can squeeze into a 12 hour period.  But we can’t allow ourselves the same distractions when we are driving.  We need to find a way to not worry about the phone ringing or the emails coming through and fiddling with the radio station.  These are all distractions that can cause an accident in a split second. My experience yesterday has brought this even closer to my attention. As a pedestrian trying to cross in the crosswalk, the car approaching distracted by his phone and doesn’t see me.  I pull back closer to the sidewalk trying to avoid getting hit.  He continues on like I wasn’t even there. Had I not reacted so quickly I would have been the victim of distracted driving.

Our focus needs to be driving, not all the distractions around us.  Yes it’s seems difficult, but if you think back even 10 years we didn’t have half the distractions we have now, mainly our smart phones.  Regardless of the laws of no texting while driving and hands free talking, we are still doing it.  I see it daily walking just from my home to work daily. People with their phone to their ear, fiddling to try and answer it, and trying to text while driving.  It’s down right scary when you think about it.  Our eyes are not on the road.  We can’t put all the blame on the teenagers, as the adults are just as guilty.  We need to be the one’s that are role models for our children and show them the importance of safe driving.

So let’s stop and think for a few seconds next time the phone rings, or a text comes through your phone.  Is it so urgent to return that text or call, that you could potentially kill someone or yourself?  Really it’s not.  Let’s set a good example for our children and teach them how important it is to drive safely.

Don’t be a distracted driver. Make a pledge to yourself and family to not answer the phone or text while driving.

Protecting YOU is our Job

Penny Hanley & Howley Insurance