Is Hands Free Still Distracted Driving?

Distracted Driving By Hands Free Devices

Distracted driving should be top of mind for every driver, considering many drivers practically live in their cars. From commuting to work, transporting kids to school and activities, attending social events and running common errands, many drivers can spend a minimum of 3 hours a day in a car, often doing much more than driving.

Today’s vehicles have been designed to allow for eating and drinking while driving. Centre consoles have cup holders for drinks and space to put snacks and food. Technology has also entered the vehicle with DVD players to entertain the kids, mobile devices that have unlimited access to Wi-Fi, and GPS systems.  Vehicular technology allows for drivers to talk, text, email and even shop online while they are driving. Unfortunately, all of these factors can have detrimental results when it comes to drivers and the distractions they face on a daily basis.

Distracted driving has many forms, all of which can be dangerous for not just a driver, but for passengers, other drivers and anyone who shares the road, including cyclists. Taking your eyes off the road, even for a second to look at your phone can be a detrimental decision, yet drivers continue to do so resulting in collisions.

Inattention Blindness and Distracted Driving

Car crash investigations and those who study distracted driving have determined that regardless of whether you are talking on a cellphone or using hands free, drivers can experience “inattention blindness” while driving under these conditions. This means that drivers who are involved in a conversation can look straight ahead yet not see the road and its surroundings. This type of distraction is often referred to as a cognitive distraction, meaning that drivers do not even notice that they are distracted. Drivers feel that they can manage driving and talking on the phone but the research shows that there are several arguments that are contrary to that belief. Listed are some myths that drivers operate under.

1. Drivers Can Multitask

The reality is that our makeup is such that the brain can completely focus on once activity at a time. We are able to switch back and forth and multitask but not when it comes to driving. Specifically, talking on the phone and driving divides a driver’s attention between the phone and the road.

2. Hands-Free Phones Are Safe

The problem is not whether a driver holds a phone or not, it is whether there is a cognitive distraction when a driver uses a phone while driving. Studies have shown that hands-free devices are not any safer than using a phone directly. A driver’s brain remains distracted by the cell phone conversation and not necessarily by the mechanics of the cell phone.

3. Cellphone Drivers Are More Alert Than Drunk Drivers

As distracted driving studies gather more information, what is common amongst all findings is that drivers who use a cell phone while driving, regardless of whether it is hands free or not, have delayed reaction times, in some cases similar to impaired drivers. What this means is that the cognitive effects of engaging in a conversation and driving have a significant effect when it comes to driver’s reacting to their surroundings. Studies suggest that using a cellphone while driving delays a driver’s reaction times as much as having an alcohol-concentration level of .08 percent. Any factor that can limit a driver’s ability to maintain a vehicle’s contract is a threat on the roadways.

Young Drivers of Canada continues to educate driver education students that controlling a driver’s cognitive brain activity is crucial when it comes to controlling distracted driving. With its exclusive Cognifit program incorporated into their full course driver training program, the Cognifit program assesses the reaction time of a driver and their ability to keep that attention when it is divided as in the case of driving while talking on the phone. The program is designed to train a brain’s ability to react to driving situations accurately when behind the wheel.

#youngdriversofcanada    #yddistracteddriving

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