3 Myths about Hands-free Devices
Every year, up to 94 percent of all car accidents are caused by driver error, according to the National Safety Council. Of those 94 percent, drivers using cellphones cause an estimated 1 out of 4 car accidents annually. What’s more is that at any given time, 7 percent of drivers are using their cellphone while behind the wheel.
A commonly offered solution to this problem is to use a hands-free device while driving. However, hands-free does not mean risk-free. In honor of National Distracted Driving Awareness Month this April, take some time to read three myths about multitasking while behind the wheel.
- Multitasking means that the brain can effectively do at least two things at once. While the brain can quickly toggle between tasks, it cannot in fact do two things at once. Moreover, the part of your brain that processes moving images decreases in activity by up to 33 percent when listening or talking on a cellphone.
- Talking on a cellphone does not affect a person’s vision. Even though it does not affect a person’s ability to see, talking on a cellphone does impair a person’s ability to process what he or she is seeing. In fact, drivers talking on a cellphone can miss up to 50 percent of what’s going on, as a driver’s field of vision narrows while using a cellphone.
- Driving only requires two hands on the wheel and both eyes on the road. Although that may be mechanically true, there is a crucial third component required for safe driving—a focused and alert mind. That’s the same reason why driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol is so dangerous. Now, you may be thinking, “of course driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol is dangerous, but talking on my cellphone can’t be as bad.” That’s where you’re wrong. Consider the following scenario.
Pretend that you’re at home reading a fairly interesting book. As you’re reading, your mind keeps drifting off to thoughts of what you’d like to eat that evening. When you get to the bottom of the page, you have absolutely no idea what you’ve just read. Driving while talking on your cellphone is the exact same situation, as your mind is focused on the conversation rather than on driving.
If you absolutely have to use your cellphone while behind the wheel, keep your conversation under 10 minutes and, even though hands-free does not mean risk-free, it is better than using one of your hands.