Hands Free Devices Encourage Distracted Driving
In our increasingly mobile society, many people find it necessary to complete several tasks at once. Many commuters seek ways to stay in touch while on the road. With the introduction of new laws that make it illegal to text or talk while driving, people seek new and creative ways to stay in touch while on the road.
There are a number of hands-free devices on the market which aid in this function. There are applications for smart phones that allow you to speak text messages, Bluetooth devices that enable the user to talk and drive and cars outfitted with in-dash computers that control your phone. Despite these innovations, many are asking whether hands free devices make a difference in terms of safety.
Is Hands Free Driving Safer?
There are a few schools of thought on this issue. Research has found that talking while driving increases the rate of driving accidents fourfold. This rate was the same, regardless of the mode of conversation. Even when drivers are using hands free devices, the chance that they will be involved in an accident is greatly increased. In some studies, it has been shown that hands free device usage actually increases the accident rate.
Conversation Limits Brain Capacity
On its face, this information may seem puzzling. Researchers, however, have found an interesting explanation for this phenomenon. They surmise that the act of engaging in conversation itself is distracting. The driver is concentrating on the conversation and formulating responses in their mind. This takes brain power away from the task of making important driving judgments. Having a conversation, any conversation, makes it more likely that the driver will be involved in a fatal accident.
Hands Free Gives a False Sense of Security
One of the other reasons that is cited for the increase in accidents of drivers who talk and text is the false sense of security provided by hands free devices. Drivers who are using a hand held cell phone are more likely to drive slowly, end their conversation quickly or pull over to talk. Because drivers are aware that driving while texting or talking is dangerous, they are less likely to do so. In addition, when they do talk or text, they limit it to essential communication.
Although hands free devices limit the need to take your hands off of the wheel, they are not foolproof. The safest way to drive is with no distractions and your mind totally focused on the task of driving.