Beware: Hands-free cellphones not always safe

It is no surprise that using a cellphone while driving is extremely dangerous for motorists and everyone else on the road. It is so dangerous in fact, that many states prohibit drivers from using hand-held cellphones. Although Kentucky has yet to initiate such legislation, people use both hand-held and hands-free cellphones while driving. Hands-free cellphones are marketed as being a safe alternative to hand-held devices. Yet, studies show that this may not always be the case.

A study released by AAA found that the amount of cognitive distraction caused by talking on a hands-free cellphone was close to the amount caused by speaking on a hand-held cellphone. Researchers discovered this after measuring the amount of cognitive distraction drivers’ experienced while they were engaged in other tasks while operating a vehicle. Participants were asked to listen to the radio, talk to a passenger in the vehicle, maintain a conversation using a hand-held cellphone, talk using a hands-free cellphone, listen to an audio book and create an email using voice-activated technology.

Interestingly enough, the amount of distraction caused by using the hands-free cellphone was only slightly less than using the hand-held cellphone. Cognitive distraction is especially dangerous because it takes drivers’ concentration off of the road and places it on other things. When people attempt to focus on two tasks at once, their brain moves from one activity to the other. This means that when the brain is focused on the distractive task, it is not focused on the road at all. This greatly increases the risk of serious accidents, injuries and deaths on the road.