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Are hands-free cellphones safe to use while driving?

If you have talked on a hand-held cellphone while behind the wheel, you are definitely not alone. Countless motorists in Texas and across the country talk and text while driving on a regular basis leading to thousands of serious injuries and deaths. In fact, many states have enacted legislation making it illegal to use your hand-held cellphone while driving in an attempt to save lives. As a result, some drivers have started using hands-free devices as a way to minimize distracted driving. Yet, studies show that even hands-free cellphones can be a significant cause of mental distraction on the road.

A study published by AAA looked at just how distracting hands-free cellphones are to drivers by asking participants to engage in several activities while operating a vehicle equipped with monitoring devices, as well as a simulator. The monitors measured the participants’ reaction time, brain activity and mental workload as they engaged in certain tasks, which include the following:

  •          Listening to an audio book or the radio
  •          Talking with a passenger
  •          Maintaining a conversation using a hands-free cellphone
  •          Speaking with someone using a hand-held device
  •          Composing an email using voice-activated technology

Researchers found that engaging in conversation using a hands-free cellphone is nearly as distracting as using a hand-held cellphone. As your brain is focused on the conversation, it is unable to fully concentrate on the road and you are less likely to respond to various hazards. The safest option is to avoid using any type of cellphone while driving so that you can keep your eyes and mind on the road. 

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