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Are hands free systems really safer than handheld cell phones?

Many new vehicles are being equipped with hands-free and Bluetooth systems that enable drivers to use their phones while driving without holding them. Becuase of this, a growing number of consumers believe that using their phones in this fashion is substantially safer. After all, taking one’s eyes off the road to type in phone numbers or to send text messages on a hand held device is a nationally recognized hazard.

In fact, more than 30 states, including Arizona, have implemented laws banning the use of handheld cell-phones while driving. With this in mind, it is reasonable to think that using hands-free systems are vastly safer than traditional phones. However, the National Safety Council (NSC) believes that this notion essentially flawed. 

According to the NSC, more than two dozen studies have found that hands-free devices are no safer than handheld devices when used while behind the wheel. An NSC representative explained that the human brain cannot multitask (even though most people define it differently). Essentially, since a person cannot read a book very closely while having a conversation, it is unrealistic to believe that one can drive a car safely while talking on the phone.

Moreover, if a person who is using a hands-free device fails to stay aware of their surroundings, he or she could be held liable for a crash.

With more vehicles being equipped with hands-free capabilities, the possibility for distracted driving accidents is arguably still high. Nevertheless, the NSC has initiated a campaign for April entitled “Hands free is not risk free” to bring awareness to distracted driving.

Source: “Why Hands-Free Cell Phones are not safer,” April 15, 2014

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