A National Safety Council public opinion poll indicates that 80 percent of drivers across the country believe that hands-free devices are safer than using a handheld phone despite evidence to the contrary.
More than 30 studies show hands-free devices are no safer than handheld, as the brain is still distracted by the cellphone conversation, according to the safety group. Of the poll participants who admitted to using hands-free devices, 70 percent said they do so for safety reasons.
“While many drivers honestly believe they are making the safe choice by using a hands-free device, it’s just not true,” said David Teater, senior director of Transportation Initiatives at the National Safety Council. “The problem is the brain does not truly multitask. Just like you can’t read a book and talk on the phone, you can’t safely operate a vehicle and talk on the phone. With some state laws focusing on handheld bans and carmakers putting hands-free technology in vehicles, no wonder people are confused.”
Currently, no state or municipality has passed a law banning hands-free use, but 12 states and the District of Columbia have passed laws banning handheld cellphone use while driving.
Also, more vehicles are now equipped with dashboard infotainment systems that allow drivers to make hands-free calls as well as send text messages, email and update social media statuses. The NSC poll found that 53 percent of respondents believe hands-free devices must be safe to use if they are built into vehicles.
To debunk the hands-free myth, the NSC has selected ‘Hands-free is not risk-free’ for its April Distracted Driving Awareness Month campaign.
The National Safety Council is a nonprofit organization that partners with businesses, government agencies, elected officials and the public on distracted driving, teen driving, workplace safety, prescription drug and safer communities initiatives.