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Are hands free cellphones safe for motorists?

If are guilty of using a hand-held cellphone while driving in Washington, you are not alone. Although this dangerous practice is illegal in the state of Washington, many people continue to talk, text and perform other functions on their hand-held cellular devices while behind the wheel. Some people, however, have turned to using hands-free devices as a way to continue their cellphone use and stay in compliance with the law. Hands-free cellphones are marketed as a safe alternative to hand-held models, as they do not require drivers to use their hands to operate or take their eyes off the road. Studies show that hands free cellphones may not be safe to use at all.

The study released by AAA had participants perform several distracting tasks while driving a simulator, as well as an actual vehicle equipped with monitoring devices. Drivers were asked to listen to the radio, listen to an audio book, engage in conversation with a passenger, send email messages over a voice-activated system and talk using a hand-held and hands free cellular device. The results showed that operating a hands-free cellphone was only slightly less distracting than using a hand-held cellphone.

Hands-free cellular devices still present a significant amount of cognitive distraction. This means that the mind is attempting to perform two complex tasks simultaneously. Instead of giving attention to both tasks at once, the mind bounces from one task to the other. There are moments where the driver is not concentrating on the road at all. The research shows it is best to put down all cellphones while driving.

This information is intended to educate and should not be taken as legal advice. 

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