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Distracted Driving: The Dangers of Hands-Free Technology

Written by Tom Crosley
Catastrophic Personal Injury
  1. 1. Hands-Free Technology
  2. 2. Cognitive Distraction
  3. 3. Hands-Free Isn’t Eyes-Free
  4. 4. Multitasking Is Mentally Taxing
  5. 5. Crosley Law Can Help
  6. 6. References:

Hands-Free Technology

Cell phones are multitasking wonders—we use them to explore the web, to email, to text, and to occasionally make an old-fashioned phone call. Hands-free technology offers the opportunity to continue multitasking and stay connected while driving, with the promise that we can do so safely. However, studies suggest that hands-free technology contributes to distracted driving and puts your safety at risk.

Cognitive Distraction

Hands-free technology requires concentration to operate and, because of this, drivers are less focused on the road. Studies have found that speech-to-text technology, though increasingly popular in new vehicles, is particularly distracting. According to a 2011 study by Texas A&M Transportation Institute, it made no difference whether drivers texted by hand or used speech-to-text technology. In both cases, drivers took twice as long to react as they normally would.

AAA confirms these findings, concluding that speech-to-text technology causes the most significant “cognitive distraction” of all hands-free technology. Using this technology leads to suppressed activity in the areas of the brain needed for safe driving. In these instances, though drivers’ hands are on the wheel, their attention is not on the road, and this can have devastating consequences. In fact, several studies have shown that drivers using hands-free technology are just as distracted as drunk drivers—an alarming comparison.

Hands-Free Isn’t Eyes-Free

In addition to being cognitively distracting, hands-free technology is visually distracting. The same AAA study reveals that drivers using hands-free technology “miss visual cues, have slower reaction times, and even exhibit a sort of tunnel vision.” As drivers interact with their hands-free devices, they become less aware of their surroundings, less likely to check their mirrors, and more likely to take their eyes off the road. The National Safety Council estimates that drivers using hands-free devices “fail to see up to 50 percent of the information in their driving environment,” and suffer from “inattention blindness” (the inability to process what they see). These drivers are unprepared and slow to respond to unexpected situations, which makes for unsafe roads.

Multitasking Is Mentally Taxing

As more vehicles come equipped with hands-free capabilities, it’s more tempting to use your phone while driving. However, as technology columnist David Pogue reminds us, “It’s not holding the phone that causes accidents—it’s mental distraction.” Multitasking while driving puts a strain on your brain, and no matter how safe hands-free technology may seem, using your phone while driving is always a risk—to you, your passengers, and anyone sharing the road.

Crosley Law Can Help

Each year, distracted driving causes over 3,000 fatalities. If you or someone you know is a victim of a distracted driver, Crosley Law Firm can help. As personal injury lawyers, we work tirelessly for our clients and represent you with integrity, determination, and care. Please contact our law offices for a free consultation.


Edwards, J. (2013, August 31). Yes, talking on a hands-free cellphone while driving is as bad as driving drunk. Business Insider. Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com/talking-on-a-hands-free-cellphone-is-as-bad-as-driving-drunk-2013-8

Pogue, D. (2013, November 1). Hands-Free texting is no safer to use while driving. Scientific American. Retrieved from http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/hands-free-texting-is-no-safer-to-use-while-driving/

Measuring Cognitive Distractions. (2013, June.) AAA. Retrieved from https://www.aaafoundation.org/measuring-cognitive-distractions

Understanding the distracted brain: Why driving while using hands-free cell phones is risky behavior. (2012, April). National Safety Council. Retrieved from http://www.nsc.org/DistractedDrivingDocuments/Cognitive-Distraction-White-Paper.pdf

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