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03 April 2014

Hands-free cellphones don't make driving safer

The US National Safety Council found that using a hands-free device while driving is no safer than using a hand-held phone because both are a distraction.

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Hands-free cellphone use while driving is not risk-free driving, new research shows.

80% of US drivers think hands-free smartphones are safer than hand-held ones when they are behind the wheel, the National Safety Council found. But the council's experts analysed 30 studies and found using a hands-free device while driving is no safer than using a hand-held phone because both are a distraction.

Brain doesn't truly multitask

"While many drivers honestly believe they are making the safe choice by using a hands-free device, it's just not true," David Teater, senior director of transportation initiatives at the National Safety Council, said in a news release. "The problem is the brain does not truly multitask. Just like you can't read a book and talk on the phone, you can't safely operate a vehicle and talk on the phone. With some state laws focusing on hand-held bans and carmakers putting hands-free technology in vehicles, no wonder people are confused."

Although 12 states and the District of Columbia have banned the use of hand-held cellphones while driving, hands-free devices have not been regulated by any state or municipality, according to the council.

A growing number of cars are being equipped with dashboard systems that allow drivers to make hands-free calls, send text messages, email and even update their social media statuses, the study authors noted.

The researchers found that 53% of those polled believe these devices are safe because they were installed by the car's manufacturer. Moreover, 70% of those surveyed said they use hands-free devices for safety reasons.

The National Safety Council has designated April as "Distracted Driving Awareness Month," to draw attention to the fact that hands-free cellphone use while driving carries its own risks.

Read more:
Third of people SMS while driving
Voice to text just as dangerous to drivers as texting

Image: Hands-free mobile from Shutterstock

 
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