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Are hands-free cellphones safe for drivers?

Although using a hand-held cellphone while driving is not against the law in Texas, the consequences of engaging in this task could be disastrous. In 2017 alone, approximately 3,166 people lost their lives in distracted driving accidents and thousands more were injured in similar incidents. In an attempt to stay safe on the road, many drivers have turned to using hands-free cellphones. While hands-free devices allow you to keep your hands on the steering wheel and eyes on the road, they still cause a significant amount of cognitive distraction, which could lead to a catastrophic collision. 

A study published by AAA looked at just how safe hands-free cellphones are compared to hand-held devices. Researchers measured participants’ heart rate, eye movement, brain activity and response time as they drove a simulator vehicle, as well as a vehicle equipped with monitors. As they drove through the course, drivers were asked to complete the following activities: 

  • Listen to an audio book

  • Talk to a passenger in the vehicle

  • Maintain a conversation using a hand-held and hands-free cellphone

  • Listen to the radio

  • Compose a text and email using voice-activated technology

Surprisingly, the results showed that speaking on a hands-free cellphone was only slightly less distracting than using a hand-held cellphone. Drivers using a hands-free device still experienced a delayed response time. 

According to the National Safety Council, the brain cannot concentrate on two complex tasks simultaneously. Instead, it skips back and forth between one task and the other, leaving periods where the brain is not focused on driving at all. 

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

 

 

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