The Dangers of Hands-free Devices

September 1, 2017

It’s commonly believed that hands-free accessories are a safe way to use cellphones while driving. However, more than 30 studies show that they are actually no safer than handheld devices.

Though hands-free devices are marketed as a way to keep a driver’s hands on the wheel, they present other dangers. For example, many of these devices require a driver to take his or her eyes off of the road—such as to navigate through an infotainment system or to ensure the accuracy of a voice-to-text system. In fact, new studies from the National Safety Council (NSC) show that drivers are more distracted by voice-to-text systems than typing a text message by hand.

Another study, released by the American Automobile Association (AAA), found that even when a driver’s eyes are on the road, the distractions from a hands-free device cause significant impairments. These include, but are not limited to, decreased awareness of surrounding traffic, a sense of tunnel vision and increased reaction time.

Measuring Distracted Driving

In a scientific study on distracted driving, AAA measured how various devices and scenarios impacted a driver’s cognitive awareness. These tasks were then rated based on a scale of 1.0 to 5.0—with 1.0 being comparable to non-distracted driving and 5.0 to an operation span (OSPAN) task (a complex math and verbal question). Here are the study’s findings:

The study also measured how the vocal interface systems of popular smartphone brands impact a driver’s cognitive awareness:

It’s always safest to drive with your mind clear of distractions, eyes focused on what’s in front of you and both hands on the wheel. Contact us today at 800-360-3000 for more resources on safe driving practices.

 

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