Lewis, Marenstein,
Wicke, Sherwin & Lee, Llp

Are hands-free cellphones a safe alternative for drivers?

California is just one state in the nation that prohibits motorists from using hand-held cellphones while behind the wheel. Many states have created legislation banning this act due to the many people who are injured and killed in distracted driving car accidents every year. As a California motorist, you may have switched to using a hands-free cellular device while driving in an attempt to stay in compliance with the law. However, studies show that hands-free devices may not be a safe alternative to hand-held cellphones.

The study, released by AAA, involved participants who were asked to operate a simulator vehicle, as well as a vehicle set up with monitoring equipment. As they were driving, researchers asked the participants to complete certain distractive tasks, including the following:

  •          Listen to a book on tape
  •          Listen to the radio
  •          Hold a conversation using a hand-held cellphone
  •          Speak with a passenger in the car
  •          Maintain a conversation using a hands-free cellphone
  •          Use a voice-activated device to compose an email

Researchers measured drivers’ heart rate, blood pressure, brain activity, eye movement and response time in order to determine the amount of cognitive distraction they experienced. Surprisingly, the amount of cognitive distraction created when using a hands-free cellphone was only slightly less than that of the hand-held cellphone.

When the brain is forced to engage in two complex tasks at the same time, it is unable to concentrate on both tasks simultaneously. Instead, it bounces back and forth from one task to the other, leaving periods of time where the brain is not focused on driving. This leaves room for a catastrophic accident to occur.

This information is intended to educate and should not be taken as legal advice.

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Lewis, Marenstein,
Wicke, Sherwin & Lee, Llp

20750 Ventura Boulevard
Suite 400
Woodland Hills, CA 91364

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