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Why hands-free cellphone usage while driving is not risk-free

On Behalf of | Jul 7, 2020 | Car Accidents |

Many people nowadays have hands-free technology in their car, truck, SUV, etc. The problem with this technology, however, is that it gives drivers a false sense of security. It lets them believe that they can safely talk or text on their cellphones while driving.

The National Safety Council strongly rebuts this assumption. It states that hands-free cellphone usage while driving leads to numerous crashes.

Cellphone distraction

Most people hold the erroneous belief that cellphone usage while driving poses a danger only when the driver holds it in his or her hand while talking or texting. Per the NSC, however, cellphone usage itself causes the danger, not the method by which drivers use it. In fact, cellphone usage while driving in and of itself causes all three of the following types of distracted driving:

  1. Visual
  2. Physical
  3. Cognitive

Visual distraction

Even though drivers can keep their eyes on the road instead of on their cellphone while talking or texting hands-free, this does not mean that their brains fully process what their eyes see. Studies have shown that the human brain cannot do two things simultaneously. When a driver talks or text while driving, his or her eyes may see the movement around him or her, but his or her brain’s ability to process that movement decreases by 33%. More frightening still, his or her brain’s ability to process the stationary objects around him or her decreases by 50%.

Physical distraction

Although hands-free cellphone usage while driving allows drivers to keep their hands on the steering wheel while talking or texting, what most drivers fail to realize is that they unconsciously remove their hands from the wheel during verbal or text conversations. Why? Because virtually all people “talk with their hands” without realizing it.

Cognitive distraction

Cognitive distraction represents perhaps the most dangerous distraction type when using a cellphone while driving. Again, it is a matter of the driver’s brain failing to do two things at once. In this case, the driver cannot think about what is happening on or near the road in front of or behind him or her while he or she thinks instead about the verbal or text conversation in which he or she is engaged.