Given the massive amount of education and safety campaigns, every driver should understand that using a cell phone or other electronic hand-held device while operating a vehicle is dangerous. The majority of states in the country have banned texting and driving, yet many driver still continue the behavior. Many companies have developed different technologies that let drivers use their devices without having to hold onto them. The question many people ask is this: hands free texting while driving: is it safe?
Distracted driving is defined as engaging in any activity or behavior that causes the driver to take their focus and attention off of operating their vehicle. Focus includes visual, manual, and cognitive.
Even just a few seconds of looking away from the road can be deadly. When a distracted driver takes their eyes of the road, the average time they are looking away is five seconds. In five seconds, a vehicle traveling at 44 m.p.h. will cover 300 yards – or the length of a football field.
According to national statistics, 9 people die in distracted driving accidents every day in the United States. Another 1,000 people per day are injured. Multiple studies have shown just how dangerous texting and driving is, including one study that concluded that texting and driving is six times more dangerous then driving drunk.
There are many hands-free options that let drivers respond to text messages and emails without the need to have to hold their devices. The majority of these options use voice-to-text technology where the driver speaks out loud and the app or whatever technology he or she is using converts what they are saying into text and then sends the message off. Some of the more common of these technologies include:
But Are They Safe?
While some studies have said that drivers using hands-free devices are at less risk of crashing than driver using handheld devices, many safety advocates disagree. Their main argument is that a driver needs to use keep their eyes on the road, their hands on the wheel, and their mind on their driving. When a driver is using a hands-free device, there are times not all three things – vision, manual, and cognitive – are being used just for driving. There are moments where the driver’s eyes come off the road or hand comes off the wheel while they fiddle with a display or button the device. Even more critical is that while the driver is speaking their message, not all their cognitive focus is on their driving. Instead, the driver is thinking about what they are saying in the text. A study by the National Safety Council found that a driver who is having a conversation on a hand-held cellphone may overlook almost half of what is happening on the road in front of them, even as they are looking right at it.