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Are hands-free cellphones really safe?

If you are a Montana motorist, you know that there are currently no bans on driving while using a hand-held or hands-free cellphone. In many states across the nation, however, using a hand-held cellphone to talk, text or message while behind the wheel is against the law. A number of motorists have started using hands free cellphones in an attempt to stay in compliance with the law and continue using a cellphone while behind the wheel. These cellular devices are marketed as being safer to use than hand-held cellphones. Yet, studies show that the amount of cognitive distraction caused by using a hands-free cellphone is not considerably less than using a hand-held cellphone.

The study published by AAA involved researchers testing the amount of cognitive distraction drivers experienced while they were engaged in different tasks while behind the wheel. These tasks included listening to the radio, listening to an audio book, talking to a passenger in the vehicle, using a hands-free cellphone, using a hand-held cellphone and sending an email using a voice activated device. As participants operated both a simulator vehicle and an actual vehicle equipped with monitoring devices, researchers measured driver response time, brain activity, heart rate and blood pressure.

Although talking on a hands-free cellphone caused minimal visual and manual distraction, it still caused a significant amount of cognitive distraction. This occurs when drivers are mentally focused on something other than driving. Cognitive distraction increases the risk of serious car accidents and lowers drivers’ ability to react to pedestrians, bicyclists, objects in the road and other drivers.

This information in intended to educate and should not be taken as legal advice.

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