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Are hands-free devices safe to use when driving?

It’s no secret that texting while driving is dangerous, for both yourself and other drivers. Because of these dangers, many motorists rely on hands-free devices, which allow you to operate your smartphone via voice alone. But are these devices any safer and can they actually prevent accidents? According to many, the answer is a resounding no.

According to the National Safety Council, a staggering 94 percent of car accidents result from errors made by the driver. Of these, a large portion of crashes entails some type of distracted driving, whether they involve texting and driving, eating behind the wheel, or even daydreaming. The problem is not the method used as much as the practice of multitasking. While often touted as a skill, splitting your attention between two activities decreases your ability to process information.

In order for a motorist to prevent accidents, three elements must be in place. Hands must be firmly planted on the wheel, eyes must be on the road, and the mind must be on the task at hand. While hands-free devices take care of two elements, the fact remains that concocting texts or giving commands to your phone are also distractions.

Recent research backs up these claims. Scientific American cites a study that tested drivers who were texting by hand, texting by voice, and not texting at all. Studies showed that driver response times were diminished when using the hands-free feature as much as texting by hand. Reactions times were often two times longer when distracted and drivers tended to pay less attention even when texting hands-free.

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