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Understanding the Distracted Brain: Why Driving While Using Hands-free Cell Phones is Risky Behavior

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The National Safety Council released a white paper in March of 2010 entitled Understanding the Distracted Brain: Why Driving While Using Hands-free Cell Phones is Risky Behavior.



The white paper does an excellent job of summarizing and explaining the research findings from over 30 studies that have examined the cognitive distractions associated with conversing on a hands-free cell phone while driving.

Among other things, the report examines

  1. Why drivers miss important driving cues.

  2. What happens when people switch attention between tasks.

  3. How the brain handles multi-tasking.

  4. How cell phones differ from talking to passengers of listening to music while driving


Here are some of the conclusions of the report

  • Distractions now join alcohol and speeding as leading factors in fatal and serious injury crashes.

  • Hands-free devices offer no safety benefit when driving.

  • Hands-free devices do not eliminate cognitive distraction.

  • Driving while talking on cell phones - handheld and hands-free - increase risk of injury and property crashes fourfold.

  • Research evidence is compelling when studies of varying research designs are conducted in different cultures and driving environments and have similar results.

  • Drivers believe their own crash risk is lower than other drivers.


The white paper concludes with possible prevention steps. At this point there does not appear to be a safe way to talk or text while driving.

So, as Tom and Ray would say, "HANG UP AND DRIVE"
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