The dangers of using technology while driving have been well established, but since the introduction of tech into our vehicles, creative ways to use gadgets while remaining "distraction-free" have been found. The most common of these is the hands-free phone, whether it be by talking on speakerphone or using bluetooth. But just how safe is the hands-free option?
In the UK, the Commons Transport Select Committee feels that hands-free phones should be banned, just as hand-held phones have been. The BBC, in response to the Committee, took up the question of the safety of hands-free devices and found much to support the idea that their use can compromise safety.
"Current laws give the "misleading impression" that hands-free options are safe, [the committee] warned... An expert told the committee that taking a hands-free phone call caused "essentially the same" amount of distraction as being at the legal limit for alcohol blood level in England and Wales."
The statistics seem to back this assertion up, with the committee reporting that there were 773 casualties in Britain in 2017 where mobile devices (of any type) contributed to the collision.
The science behind why hands-free phone use can be just as dangerous as hand-held phones is interesting, too. Aside the fact that any phone use necessitates conversation that can take your attention off the road, the BBC point to a study that suggests there is actually a visual component to the distraction as well.
"A 2016 study by scientists at the University of Sussex found conversation via hands-free devices caused some drivers to visually imagine what was being discussed."
Whether or not the findings of the committee lead to any change in the laws remains to be seen, but even without change on the part of the government, a better understanding of the way in which we are actually affected by hands-free phone use is crucial for safe driving.
For more, check out the original article by the BBC.