The dangers of using hands-free cellphones while driving

In many states, drivers are prohibited from using hand-held cell phones while navigating the roadways. Distracted driving is involved in thousands of car accidents every year. Although it is not against the law for drivers in Louisiana to use a hand-held cellphone while behind the wheel, it certainly is not a good idea. Many drivers have started using hands-free cellphones to minimize distraction. Yet, even hands-free cellphones can cause catastrophic car accidents that can injure and kill innocent people. 

A study published by AAA looked at just how distracting hands-free cellphones are when compared to hand-held cell phones and other destructive activities. Researchers asked participants to perform a number of tasks while driving a simulator vehicle as well as a car set up with monitors. The tasks included the following:

  • Speaking with a passenger in the car

  • Listening to music

  • Listening to an audio book

  • Talking using a hand-held cellphone and a hands-free cell phone

  • Using voice-activated technology to compose an email

As drivers completed the tasks, researchers measured their heart rate, eye movement, brain activity and response time. The results showed that while talking on a hands-free cell phone was less distracting than using a hand-held cellphone, it was not by much. The hand-held cell phone was still a significant distraction. 

Cognitive distraction occurs when the brain tries to complete two complex tasks at the same time. Rather than focus on each one independently, the mind bounces back and forth from one to the other. This leaves periods where the mind is not concentrating on driving at all, and this is when a disastrous accident can occur.