Using Hands-Free Devices While Driving: Safe or Dangerous?

We all know distracted driving is dangerous. But in our eternal quest to increase our productivity through multitasking, we continue to engage in various types of distracting behaviors. Fortunately, the marketplace is flooded with tons of hands-free devices like Bluetooth cell phones and even voice command navigation and cell phone features built right into the center console of your car. But new evidence indicates using hands-free devices while driving is not as safe as we first assumed. 

How dangerous is using your phone while driving?

According to the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI), sending a text message keeps your eyes off of the road for four to five seconds. Traveling at 55 miles per hour, this is enough time to drive across an entire football field.

During the time that your eyes are off the road, a pedestrian may step into your path or the driver in front of you may slam on her brakes.

Talking on the phone causes inattention blindness, an inability to stay in the lane, and a slower response and reaction time, according to the National Safety Council (NSC) in its report Understanding the Distracted Brain.

Are hands-free devices really safe to use?

Intuitively, we assume that hands-free devices, such as a Bluetooth headset for your cell phone, are safer to use while driving than traditional cell phone usage. After all, although it is illegal to talk on your cell phone in many states, those same states make exceptions for hands-free conversations. However, hands-free technology may not actually be safe.

Woman driving while speaking into a hands-free device. 

According to the NSC, drivers are four times more likely to get into an accident while using a cell phone. Furthermore, they argue that there is no difference in this risk between traditional cell phone use and hands-free use. This is because talking on a cell phone limits your ability to focus on the road.

For example, the NSC claims that activity in the part of your brain that processes moving images decreases by up to 33 percent while you are talking on a cell phone. Furthermore, drivers who are speaking on a cell phone have a narrower field of view than those who are not distracted. This means that even if your hands are both on the wheel, you could still be involved in an accident.

And it is not just hands-free phone conversations that are dangerous. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety states that voice-to-text messaging through the car’s dashboard or Bluetooth system can actually be more distracting for drivers than traditional texting by hand.

And the distraction does not stop once you end your text. Mental distractions can linger for up to 27 seconds after sending a voice text.

Myth Busted: Hands-Free Technology is NOT Safe

It is not just the NSC and the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety that agree hands-free technology is not safe to use. The MythBusters team set out to discover whether hands-free cell phone use is actually safer than regular cell phone use while driving.

In two separate studies, one with the hosts of the show driving on a closed obstacle course and the other with multiple drivers operating cars within a high-tech driving simulator, the results were the same: driving while using hands-free cell phone technology is equally as bad as driving while talking on a hand-held phone.

Contact Max Meyers Law if You Were Hurt in a Crash

Now that you know hands-free technology is not as safe as we initially thought, keep this in mind as you and your loved ones get behind the wheel. Whenever possible, postpone your calls until you can pull over to the side of the road or you reach your destination. Taking this precaution could save your life.

Regardless of the cause of your accident, if you or a loved one suffered injuries in a car accident, contact a car accident attorney at Max Meyers Law, PLLC at 425-242-5595 to set up your initial consultation today.

Max Meyers
Max is a Kirkland personal injury attorney handling cases in Seattle, King County & surrounding in WA State.