Hands-Free Cell Phones No Safer for Drivers, Studies Show

As we recently reported on our South Florida Injury Lawyer Blog, the entire month of April is being used by safe driving advocates to get drivers to hang up the phone behind the wheel. It’s all a part of National Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

This month is especially important in the state of Florida because we are one of the few states left that has yet to enact any kind of law banning drivers from this dangerous behavior. While many drivers think that they can do their part by switching to a hands-free device in the driver’s seat — we’re here to tell you that it’s no safer. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), talking on hands-free cell phone still requires the brain to multitask – a process it cannot do safely while driving.

Our Boca Raton car accident lawyers understand that motor vehicle accidents continue to be among the top two causes of death throughout a person’s lifetime. These accidents are also the number one cause of work-related injury — driving scenarios in which many of us use our cell phones in the driver’s seat. As a matter of fact, there are between 35,500 and 49,500 people who are killed in motor vehicle accidents each year. One of the top causes for these accidents and fatalities is driver distraction.

So why hasn’t the legislature enacted bans on this dangerous driving behavior? There are quite a few reasons. The first problem is that nearly all legislation focuses on hand-held phones when the problem is much more complex — like text messaging behind the wheel. All state laws (and many employer policies) allow driver to use a hands-free phone behind the wheel, which we now know is no safer. According to public opinion polls, people understand the risks of talking on hand-held phones and text messaging behind the wheel more than they recognize the dangers of hands-free phone use. Many drivers mistakenly believe that talking on a hands-free device is a lot safer than talking on a hand-held phone.

The truth of the matter is that officials with the NSC have compiled findings from more than 30 research studies and reports that were conducted by scientists — they all report hands-free devices provide no benefit over the use of hand-held devices. It’s all there in the research — hands-free devices don’t eliminate cognitive distractions.

Drivers think they’re fine. They think that they can multitask behind the wheel with no problems. But that’s a myth. The human brain is not able to perform two tasks at the same time with equal success. Instead, the brain handles tasks sequentially. When we’re behind the wheel, we have no time for switching. We need all of our attention on driving at all times.