Study: Hands-free cellphones cause driver distraction

If you are like many other Americans, you may use a hands-free cellphone to minimize distraction and continue to keep up with friends and business. You may be surprised to learn, however, that even hands-free cellphones are not safe to use while behind the wheel. Hands-free cellphones are a significant source of cognitive distraction and can cause serious car accidents. According to the National Safety Council, the human brain is incapable of fully concentrating on two complex tasks at the same time. Instead, the mind bounces back and forth between one task and the other, which leaves instances where you may not focus on driving at all. These moments can have disastrous consequences.

In one study, researchers measured the amount of cognitive distraction caused by certain distractive tasks, including the following:

  •          Maintaining a conversation using a hand-held device
  •          Talking with someone using a hands-free cellphone
  •          Listening to an audio book
  •          Listening to the radio
  •          Perform various tasks using voice-activated technology

As participants operated a simulator vehicle and a vehicle equipped with monitoring devices, they engaged in the distractive tasks. Researchers measured their heart rate, response time, brain activity and eye movement. The results showed that using a hands-free cellphone is only slightly less distracting than using a hand-held cellphone. Furthermore, drivers experienced the most cognitive distraction when using the voice-activated technology, prompting further studies. Studies show it is best to avoid using all cellular devices while driving and place full concentration on the road.

This information is intended to educate and should not be taken as legal advice.

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