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Cell phones vs. hands free devices when driving

  • Posted: 03.28.2017

You may realize that texting while driving is dangerous. You may also understand that holding a cell phone and talking on it while driving is not very safe. But you may mistakenly believe that talking on a hands-free device is the solution. It’s not, and here’s why.

The myth of multi-tasking
According to the National Safety Council, when it comes to our brain functioning, there is no such thing as multi-tasking. Instead, our brains rapidly switch between tasks. In addition, activity in the area of the brain that processes moving images decreases by up to one-third when listening or talking on a phone. That is, a driver can’t watch the road and control the vehicle, while at the same time, talk on the phone, even if the “phone” is a Bluetooth device.

That’s why drivers distracted by cell phones often swear they “did not see the stop sign” or “the pedestrian” or “the bicyclist” even in broad daylight and even if the vehicle or pedestrian is easily visible. Their brains filtered out vital information and the attempt at multi-tasking affected reaction time also, leading to accidents.

Seeing is believing
A few years ago, MythBusters confirmed that driving while talking on a cell phone mentally impairs drivers as much as driving after drinking alcohol. In a later 2015 study, the crew tested talking on a cell phone vs. using a hands-free cell phone device, and determined that both methods were equally dangerous. Check out the video showing their disastrous driving results.  

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Take the National Safety Council’s advice and “Just Drive” while leaving your cell phone turned off.