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Study: hands-free cellphone use more dangerous than thought

Distracted driving is a very dangerous and causes many car accidents in Ohio. A new study found a reason why distracted driving continues to plague our nation's roads: the use of hands-free cellphones and voice-activated technology.

The study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that hands-free cellphones are more distracting behind the wheel than hand-held cellphones. The study reported that drivers who use hands-free devices and voice-activated technology become distracted, with their reaction time reducing and their brain function being compromised while they drive. 

The study found that when drivers use hands-free devices, their mental workload increases and they cannot focus on driving and using the devices at the same time. This forces drivers to focus more on using the technology than driving, and drivers are more likely to miss visual cues while driving and may not even see vehicles or pedestrians right in front of them.

The researchers said that there is a misguided trust of using hands-free devices while driving because many drivers think they are safer than using hand-held cellphones. However, this is not true and drivers are actually at an increased risk of being in a car accident due to being distracted behind the wheel.

Based on the findings of the study, the AAA is recommending the automakers and other industries understand the risks of these devices and limit the use of these technologies in their vehicles. They said that voice-activated technology should only be allowed for core driving functions like climate control, cruise control and the windshield wipers.

They also recommended that automakers should install technology to disable the use of cellphones while the vehicle is in motion, including voice-to-text technology, because there is an increased danger of using these devices while driving.

The public should be aware of the risks associated with using new technology behind the wheel and make smart, safe choices while on the road to reduce the risk of being in a car crash.

Source: EHS Today, "Think You Know All About Distracted Driving? Think Again!" Sandy Smith, June 12, 2013

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