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Are hands free cellphones really safe?

In Georgia and in many other states in the nation, it is illegal for you to use a hand-held cellphone while driving, according to the National Conference of State Legislators. As a result, you may turn to using hands free cellphones in an attempt to stay in compliance with the law. Although hands free cellphones are marketed as a safe alternative to hand-held devices, they may not be as safe to use as you might think.

A study conducted by AAA found that even hands-free cellphones cause a significant level of cognitive distraction, which can cause serious accidents, injuries and even death. During the study, participants were asked to engage in several tasks while driving a simulator, as well as an actual vehicle equipped with monitoring devices. These tasks included the following:

  •          Speaking on a hand-held cellphone.
  •          Talking on a hands-free cellphone.
  •          Maintaining a conversation with a passenger in the vehicle.
  •          Listening to the radio.
  •          Listening to an audio book.
  •          Composing an email using voice activated technology.

As drivers performed these tasks, researchers measured participants’ heart rate, response time and eye movement.

The results showed that while hands-free cellphones caused less cognitive distraction that hand-held cellphones, the difference was minimal. Cognitive distraction occurs when a driver’s mind is not fully focused on the road. According to the National Safety Association, the brain cannot complete two complex tasks at the same time. Instead, it switches back and forth between tasks, leaving moments where the brain is not focused on driving at all.

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