If you are like most drivers, you probably already know that texting while driving could increase your chance of getting into a crash. You may have employed certain workarounds to avoid distraction related to texts or emails when you drive.

However, if you have a Bluetooth headset or a newer car, you may also be in the practice of making hands-free phone calls while driving or giving verbal commands to your vehicle. Unfortunately, both of those activities can be as distracting as sending a text or checking an email.

You likely take both your eyes and your mental focus off the road when making a phone call or issuing a verbal command to your phone or vehicle. That break in focus can have consequences for your safety.

The distraction persists for longer than you think

You probably imagine that issuing a verbal command to your phone or car, or choosing to make a hands-free phone call won’t distract you for much longer than it takes to confirm you have answered the call or issue the right command. However, your mind takes much longer than you probably think to refocus on the task of driving.

It will take you about 27 seconds to fully resume mental focus on safe driving. You won’t just be distracted while issuing the command or talking on the phone. You will also experience residual distraction for almost half a minute after that.

Just because it’s in the vehicle doesn’t mean it’s safe

Many people mistakenly believe that the screens in their vehicle are safe to use while driving because they are a major part of the vehicle itself. However, your mind and eyes will be just as distracted by glancing at your console screen as they would be looking down at your phone instead.

Other people believe that so long as they are familiar with the commands they have to issue that using voice commands won’t require visual verification. However, researchers have found that even those who are familiar and comfortable with voice commands and voice to text programs still tend to glance at the screens for accuracy. You are probably more distracted and in more danger than you actually realize.

Avoiding split focus and multitasking on the road is in your best interest. However, you could still wind up hurt by someone else who decides to drive while distracted. In that situation, you will have the potential right to take legal action against the driver responsible for the crash. Discussing the details of the collision and your suspicions of distraction with an experienced Missouri attorney can be a great first step.