Study Shows Hands-Free Phones No Safer than Hand-Held Phones When Driving

July 22, 2009
A new study concludes there is little difference between the driving safety risk of hands-free versus hand-held cell phones and confirms that any type of cell phone use detracts from the brain’s ability to focus on safe driving.

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.”

Related Articles:

NSC Calls for Nationwide Ban on Cell Phone Use While Driving

NSC: Drivers Are More Distracted Than They Realize

NSC Launches “Death by Cell Phone” Billboards

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of EHS Today, create an account today!