Using a phone while driving is illegal now in many jurisdictions, but hands-free units are allowed just about everywhere. However a new study from Queensland University of Technology has determined that using a phone in hands-free mode is just as distracting as a handheld phone.
Dr. Shimul Haque of the School of Civil Engineering and Built Environment measured reaction time and driving performance in a simulator, and exposed them to a to a virtual road network with pedestrians in a virtual crossing. According to QUT News,
The reaction time of drivers participating in either a handheld or hands-free conversation was more than 40 per cent longer than those not using a phone. In real terms this equates to a delayed response distance of about 11m for a vehicle travelling at 40km/h. This shows hands-free and handheld phone conversations while driving have similar detrimental effects in responding to a very common peripheral event of a pedestrian entering a crossing from the footpath.
Dr Haque says the cognitive load is the same, whether you are talking hands free or holding the phone.
Read More: TreeHugger
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