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Hands-Free Devices Still Risky

Beginning January 1, 2014, Illinois prohibited drivers from using their electronic device to send messages while they are driving with an exception for hands-free devices. In the past few years, nearly every state now encourages drivers to use hands-free devices because generally hands-free devices are thought to be safer than texting or manually operating your phone with your hands by driving.

However, according to the National Safety Council, 80-90% of auto accidents are due to human error. More likely than not, humans errors arise from distractions while driving. The hands-free devices have been found to be a hassle and still distract drivers who use them. In fact, studies have shown that driving while operating a hands-free device is going to be four times more distracting than just simply operating your vehicle.

We love to brag about our abilities to multi-task. But, should driving be one of the tasks we participate in while multi-tasking? At first, the hands-free devices were intended to just make simple phone calls. Now, it has advanced into the ability to change temperature in the car, change music, reply to e-mails and more. This is where even more danger presents itself. For example, responding to e-mail while driving requires the majority of your mental state to be focused on what the e-mail should say. This is the type of extreme distraction that causes nearly 90% of car accidents annually.

These distractions to our mental states related to the hassles of hands-free devices are mostly due to manufacturers rushing to get them into vehicles before fixing all the bugs in the voice recognition system. Faulty voice recognition has been a leading cause for cars being brought in for maintenance or being recalled. The voice recognition system has a hard time in recognizing accents and sometimes will call the wrong person. When drivers are faced with hands-free errors, they are experiencing a mental distraction with frustration, which is the worst distraction of them all.

Remember, just because hands-free devices are legal it does not mean that they are risk-free. The law is trying to deter drivers from manually operating their phone while driving, because that uses both your hands and your mind. Hands-free devices take away (for the most part) the need for hands. However, the use of your mind is where the true danger lies if you want to stay safe on the roads and reduce the changes of a car accident.

R.F. Wittmeyer

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