Hands-Free Does Not Mean Accident Free

Posted on: November 18th, 2016 by Accurate Auto Body Shop No Comments

hands-free driving Hands-Free Driving Debate

We know that the smartphone has become a ubiquitous item in our lives. Everyone seems to have one. Almost every member of our Denver car body repair team owns one and we are willing to bet that you do as well. In fact, you could be reading this article on one at this very moment! While we have had more than ten years with smartphones, and even longer with standard cell phones, we are still learning how to use them appropriately. For example, we are still sorting out if it is appropriate to use them to email at a restaurant? Do we need to silence them while at work (I try but sometimes forget…sorry co-workers)? And, more importantly, how can I use them in my car?

Many states have passed hands-free laws. This means that you cannot, legally, operate your cell phone or smartphone with your hands while you are driving. As a result, smartphone developers and car manufacturers have designed systems that integrate with your phone through Blue Tooth. These integrations allow you to speak on the phone, listen to music, and even hear your text messages and emails AND you can dictate back a response. All of this you can do while being hands-free and keeping your eyes on the road. Sounds great! Sounds safe!

But is it any safer?  The answer is no.

Hands-Free Driving Facts

Hands-free does not mean you will be accident-free. While you may not be holding your phone when it is connected to your car’s system, it does not mean you will not be distracted. This may not surprise you, as we have seen plenty of evidence in studies that compared speaking on the phone while holding it to speaking on the phone while hands-free. Those studies found there was no significant reduction in accidents. It doesn’t matter if you hold the phone or not, you are cognatively distracted even if your eyes are focused on the road.

But What About Hands-Free Texting?

Texas A&M Transportation Institute also ran a study, on a closed driving course, under three conditions: texting by hand, texting by voice, and without texting at all. The results were very interesting. There is no difference whether you text hands-free or by voice, the response times were significantly delayed no matter the texting method. Both sets of texting drivers took twice as long to react compared to when not texting. Also, both sets of texting drivers spent less time with their eyes on the road even when they were texting by voice.

From this study, we now know that hands-free texting, just like traditional hands-free phone conversations, does not improve accident safety. So, while your car and smartphone may come with great technology that enables you to be hands-free, your cognitive mind is still distracted.

How to Use This Information

Obviously, we are big advocates of simply not using your phone while driving. Period. Some phones come with a driving mode that inhibits texts and calls from coming through. Some cars can also auto-respond to texts and lets people know that you are driving. Or, you can just put your phone on the back seat and gather your messages when you are done getting where you need to be. But, if you should happen to get into an accident, we can help repair your vehicle’s damage. Call us at 303-344-2212 or go online to get an estimate.

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