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Are hands-free cellphones safe to use while driving?

Although it is still legal for you to talk and text on a hand-hand cellphone while driving in Massachusetts, these acts are prohibited in many other states. At least 20 states in the nation have banned drivers from using hand-held devices because they contribute to catastrophic car accidents. In 2017 alone, more than 3,166 people were killed and even more were injured in accidents involving distracted drivers. As a result, many people have started using hands-free cellphones to lessen the distraction and help them focus on the road. Yet, studies show that even hands-free devices cause a significant amount of cognitive distraction, which could also lead to an accident. 

The study, published by AAA, looked at the amount of cognitive distraction drivers experienced when they engaged in certain activities, including the following:

  • Listening to the radio

  • Listening to a book on tape

  • Talking with another passenger in the car

  • Maintaining a conversation using a hands-free and hand-held cellphone

  • Composing an email using voice-activated technology

Researchers monitored participants’ heart rate, eye movement, brain activity and response time as a measure of distraction. The results showed that while using a hands-free device was less distracting, it still created a significant amount of cognitive distraction. 

When a person’s attention is focused on something other than driving, it is referred to as cognitive distraction. The brain cannot fully concentrate on two tasks simultaneously, but rather jumps back and forth from one task to the other. This can leave periods where the driver is not focused on the road at all. 

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



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