If you are like many other drivers in Kentucky and across the United States, you may have used your hand-held cellphone while driving in traffic. The dangers of engaging in this deadly act are apparent, as thousands of Americans have lost their lives in car accidents caused by distracted driving. Although it is legal to use a hand-held cellphone while driving in Kentucky, this practice is prohibited in several other states. Many people have turned to using hands-free devices are they are thought to be a safe alternative to using a hand-held device. Studies show, however, that people may want to reconsider using hands-free devices while behind the wheel.
In a study published by AAA, researchers asked participants to drive a simulator vehicle, as well as a vehicle equipped with monitoring devices. They measured participants eye movement, reaction time, brain activity and heart rate as they engaged in certain distractive activities while driving. These activities included the following:
- Listening to an audio book
- Listening to the radio
- Maintaining a conversation using a hand-held and hands-free cellphone
- Completing tasks using voice-activated technology
- Holding a conversation with a passenger in the vehicle
The results showed that talking on a hands-free cellphone was only slightly less distracting than using the hand-held device. When the brain is forced to concentrate on more than one complex activity at a time, it bounces back and forth from one task to the other. This may leave moments when the brain is not focused on driving at all, increasing the chances of a devastating car accident.