If you are like many other drivers in the United States, you have used your cellphone while behind the wheel. This deadly practice, however, leads to catastrophic car accidents, injuries and deaths. In 2016, 3,450 people were killed, and another 391,000 people were injured in distracted driving car accidents in the U.S., according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. As a result, many states, including Connecticut, implemented legislation banning the use of hand-hand cellphones while driving. In order to stay in compliance with the law, you may have used a hands-free cellphone while driving. However, studies show that these devices may not be a safe alternative to their hand-held counterparts.
AAA published a study looking at hands-free cellphones and the amount of cognitive distraction they produce. Researchers asked participants to perform the following distractive tasks:
- Listening to an audio book
- Listening to the radio
- Talking on a hands-free and a hand-held cellphone
- Talking with a passenger in the car
- Compose an email using voice activated technology
While the participants engaged in the tasks, they were asked to operate a simulator vehicle, as well as a car set up with monitoring equipment. Researchers measured their response time, brain activity, heart rate and eye movement while driving. Surprisingly, the results showed that using a hands-free cellphone was not much safer than using a hand-held cellphone. Hands-free cellphones still act as a significant source of cognitive distraction. The mind cannot focus on two complex tasks, such as maintaining a conversation and concentrating on the road. Instead, it bounces back and forth from one task to the other, leaving room for an accident to occur.
This information is intended to educate and should not be taken as legal advice.