Is Driving Hands-Free Really Safer?

distracted driving
Using a Hands-Free cell phone device can still cause you to miss up to 50% of the information in you driving environment.

 Many people mistakenly believe that hands-free devices are a solution for distracted driving. They allow you to keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road. But, what about the distraction of carrying on a conversation while driving? Have you ever tried to do two cognitive complex tasks at once; like ride a bike and read a billboard, or walk and juggle or drive a car and talk on the phone? It’s possible, and you may think that you have complete focus on both tasks at once, but what your brain isn’t telling you is that you’re shifting focus between one task and the other. This can be very dangerous on the road when you’re driving and talking on the phone because you could fail to see up to 50% of the information in your driving environment. 

Inattention blindness is what causes a driver on the phone to look out of the windshield, but not process everything in the roadway environment. Imagine when you are at home watching your favorite TV show and someone engages you in a conversation that steals your attention. While you are still looking at the TV, you are thinking a lot about the conversation, and while you’re talking, something exciting happens on the show. Even though you were physically looking at the TV, you missed what was going on in the show and failed to comprehend the events leading up to the exciting scene. This might be why they invented TiVo. Unfortunately, we don’t have TiVo for real life when inattention Blindness caused by driving and talking on the phone can lead to accidents and even worse deaths.

 Here is a infographic that just how dangerous it is to use the phone and drive:

Distracted vs Impaired

While many state laws and employer policies allow Hands-Free cell phone use, more recently national political leaders and employers are recognizing the risks of using Hands-Free devices:

  • In December of 2011, the National Transportation Safety Board recommended that all 50 states ban all portable electronic devices for all drivers – including use of Hands-Free devices.
  • According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, On March of 2012, 31 states prohibited teen drivers from any cell phone use, including Hands-Free devices
  • President Obama has ordered all federal employees to stop texting while driving and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration have issued Rules about employee use of cell phones while driving.

While hands-free devices take some of the risk out of distracted driving, it is not a safe solution. Eliminating all use of cell phones, handheld and hands-free, while driving is the only way to put 100% of your attention on the road and be distraction-free. It may be hard to live without your phone for any period of time in today’s world, but your life and the lives around you are far more important than any phone call.

What is your stand on Hands-Free devices? Do you think there should be laws against using Handheld and Hands-Free devices while driving?  Let us know below in the comments section. 

Related Posts:

How to Drive Distraction Free

Distracted Driving = Disaster