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Is hands-free really risk-free?

Distracted driving represents the number one cause of fatal car crashes in America. And talking or texting on your cellphone while you drive represents the number one distracted driving cause. Unfortunately, the National Safety Council reports that at any given time, 7% of all drivers are in fact using their cellphones. If you are one of those drivers, you may think you are safe because you believe the myth that hands-free cellphone usage equates to risk-free driving and you never actually hold your phone while talking or texting. This belief could get you seriously injured or even result in your death.

Despite propaganda to the contrary, your brain cannot multi-task. When you talk or text while driving, even though doing it hands-free, you subject yourself to the following three types of distraction:

  1. Physical
  2. Visual
  3. Cognitive

Most of us “talk with our hands,” whether we realize it or not. Even when talking hands-free on your cellphone or dictating a text into it, you are far more likely to take your hands off the steering wheel where they belong. This, in turn, makes it more difficult for you to control your vehicle.

It goes without saying that you need to keep your eyes on the road whenever you drive. Believe it or not, studies show that your brain’s ability to see and process moving objects around you decreases by as much as 33% while you use your cellphone. As for stationary objects, the numbers are even worse. Your brain’s ability to see and process them decreases by up to 50%.

Driving represents a serious activity. Your life and the lives of your passengers depend on your ability to think about what you and other drivers are doing as you drive. Talking or texting on your cellphone substantially distracts you from keeping your mind on your driving.

So the next time your cellphone rings or beeps while you are behind the wheel, ignore it, even if you have installed hands-free technology in your vehicle. The importance of that call or text pales in comparison to the importance of staying safe.

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