Argument: Hands-free cell phones are just as distracting to drivers
Jonathan Levy of the University of California, San Diego. - This study joins a growing body of research showing that 'freeing up the hands' does not result in faster brake response times.
Russ Rader at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in Alexandria, Virginia. - The evidence is mounting that the communication itself is the risk.
- When we did a major study in 2005, looking at the crash risk for drivers using cell phones, there was no difference between those using hand-held phones and those using hands-free devices.
University of Utah Professor David Strayer has simulators to monitor driving ability and brain function. - "Your mind is just not on the road. And the impairments aren't because your hands aren't on the wheel, but more that your mind in not on driving."
"Are hands-free cell phones really safer for drivers?". Komo News. 25 June 2008 - In one simulator test, volunteers were told to pull over when they see a rest stop about 8 miles up the road. When they were not on the phone, everyone found the rest stop without a problem. But when drivers were on the phone - hand-held or hands-free, half zipped right by.
"They just were blind to the rest stop just like people are blind to pedestrians walking across the road or bicycles or traffic light," said Strayer. "The mind was just preoccupied with the conversation and didn't see the rest stop."
Rae Tyson, a spokesman for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. -"There just doesn't seem to be any safety benefit by restricting drivers to hands-free phones. It's the cognitive overload that sometimes occurs when you're engaging in a conversation that is the source of the distraction, more so than the manipulation of the device."
Experimental Psychology, University of South Carolina psychologist Amit Almor - "It has not anything to do with manipulating the phone or holding it. It's the attentional demands of conversation that matters."