Warning: Hands-free is not risk-free

You see it every day as you drive Louisiana’s streets, roads and freeways. People using their cellphones while driving often seem to surround you. Per the National Safety Council, upwards of 100 people die every day across America in a motor vehicle accident due to distracted driving, of which cellphone usage forms a large part.

If you have heard that using hands-free technology while talking or texting on your cellphone when you drive will prevent you from being distracted, do not believe this urban legend. Just because you refrain from using your hands when you talk or text while driving does not mean that such activity does not distract you. It does. And this distraction puts you at high risk of becoming an accident victim yourself.

Safe driving rules

Back when you took driver’s education in high school or otherwise learned how to drive, you likely learned the following three rules of safe driving:

  1. Always keep your hands on the steering wheel.
  2. Always keep your eyes on the road.
  3. Always keep your mind on your driving.

How your brain works

Although using hands-free technology keeps your hands on the steering wheel while talking or texting on your cellphone, it fails to make you a safe driver. Why? Because despite the emphasis on multitasking today, your brain can only do one thing at a time. Admittedly, your brain can quickly switch its focus from one activity to another, but it cannot focus on both of them at once.

Studies show that when you talk and/or text hands-free while driving, your ability to see and process movement around you decreases by as much as 33 percent. Furthermore, your ability to see and process stationary objects around you decreases by as much as 50 percent.

Surprisingly enough, additional studies show that using hands-free technology to talk or text on your cellphone while driving distracts you even more than if you use your hands to do it. The distraction problem occurs from the activity itself, not the methodology you use to engage in it. Consequently, despite the fact that some states still allow hands-free cellphone usage while driving, refusing to engage in any cellphone activity while driving remains your best and safest strategy.

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