The study, by Yoko Ishigami, Dalhousie University, and Raymond Klein, appeared in the National Safety Council’s (NSC) Journal of Safety Research. Several other studies also support the claim that hands-free phones and hand-held phones are equally dangerous.
Cell phone use behind the wheel is a growing problem. According to conservative estimates, each year in the United States more than 636,000 crashes, 330,000 injuries, 12,000 serious injuries and 2,600 deaths are caused by a distracted driver on a cell phone. In January, NSC became the first national organization to call for a total ban on cell phones for drivers.
Researchers found hands-free phones and hand-held phones are equally dangerous for drivers. Results show both types of phones cause more accidents and driving errors; impair reaction times; and slow down overall vehicle speeds.
While vehicle speed tends to decline for drivers using any type of cell phones, those with hand-held phones generally show the most decline.
“Slowing down can be a compensatory behavior to maintain safety in the face of factors challenging it,” the researchers suggest. “Drivers may have slowed down more when talking on a hand-held phone because they were more aware of the mental and physical load imposed on them.”