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Hands-free devices not as safe as we think, study says

Our obsession with always staying connected may be leading to unsafe behaviors and dangerous while driving. In recent years, new hands-free technologies have been introduced to prevent distracted driving.

Hands-free technologies can come in many forms but the concept is the same: keep drivers from physically holding or even touching their cellphone or other electronic devices. Despite the assumption that hands-free devices would increase safety, that does not seem to be the case according to recent studies.

New studies report that hands-free technologies still distract drivers behind the wheel. Even though these devices allow drivers to keep their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road, they are still distracted.

According to the American Automobile Association's Foundation for Traffic Safety, hands-free technologies can still lead to distractions. Even more concerning is the finding that drivers can have mental distractions after completing a task, meaning they are still distracted while driving even after using a cellphone or completing a different task.

Specifically, the study found that new hands-free technologies in several 2015 vehicles and three smart phones actually led to more mental distraction. The researchers reported that the distraction lasted as long as 27 seconds after a driver completed a task.

AAA's president said they are concerned because many new vehicles and phones have voice-activated and hands-free technologies built into their devices. To make matters worse, many drivers believe these devices are safer and may not be aware of the dangers they pose.

The finding that hands-free devices are not safe and do not decrease distractions behind the wheel is very troubling. Many car accidents continue to be caused by distracted drivers.

All drivers need to be aware of the dangers of using hands-free technology and understands the risks of using new technology behind the wheel.

Source: Fleet World, "New hands-free technologies still a dangerous distraction for drivers, says US research," Natalie Middleton, Nov. 6, 2015

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