Proponents claim that hands-free technology improves driver safety. Studies reveal, however, that this is not true. In fact, recent research indicates that talking on the phone using hands-free technology may be more dangerous than driving while drunk.
National Safety Council: Hands-Free Still Poses Risks
According to data from the National Safety Council (NSC), hands-free technology does not lead to safer driving. The NSC details the role of hands-free technology and the reasons why hands-free technology does not substantially contribute to safer roads. NSC data concluded that every day, 9 people are killed and over 1,000 people sustain injuries in auto accidents where distracted driving is a contributing factor.
Drivers who use hands-free technology can miss up to 50% of the view in front of them while they are talking on the phone. While the driver’s eyes might be looking out the windshield and his or her hands are on the steering wheel, the person’s mind will be unevenly focused on the phone call and driving.
The NSC reasons that holding a phone conversation on a hands-free device is similar to talking on the phone while reading a book. The human brain does not perform as well when trying to perform more than one attention-demanding task at a time. The NSC also reports that:
- a driver’s ability to process moving images decreases by up to 30% when talking on a phone.
- distracted driving accident statistics have remained largely the same in recent years despite the increase in hands-free device use.
- crashes involving hands-free technology are underreported.
- cellphone use causes drivers’ reaction times to be slower.
- people who talk on a cellphone while driving are 4 times more likely to be involved in a crash.
Drivers Must Keep Their Mind on Driving
Hands-free devices may enable drivers to keep their hands on the steering wheel, but that is only one area of distraction drivers face. Drivers who are using the technology may still be tempted to look at their phones while driving, and they’re actively engaging in distracted driving when speaking to another person over the phone.
To help keep the roads safer, drivers should use hands-free devices responsibly. They should take steps to limit their reliance on hands-free devices when they are behind the wheel.