Hands-free isn't always risk-free

Hands-free isn't always risk-free

Many people think it is safe to use their mobile phones in hands-free mode while driving, but it is still risky as it is a distraction, according to a new study.

The lead author of the research, David Strayer, Professor of Psychology at the University of Utah, is warning that hands-free doesn't necessarily mean risk-free.

Abreakdown of his argument is that technologies using speech that were designed to make driving less dangerous can actually divert motorists' attentions and mean they are no longer driving safely.

He warned that just because drivers can use the systems to update their Facebook profiles while at the wheel doesn't mean they should and that it is safe. He said drivers should not think that as long as they have their eyes on the road and both hands on the wheel that they are not impaired. He confirmed that anything that causes drivers to stop paying attention to the road in front of them is dangerous.

Research by Strayer in 2006 suggested that hands-free phone calls were just as distracting to drivers as using handsets but he said the message did not filter through. He hopes that if people realise the risks they are taking, not just with their own lives but those of other road users too, they will see the dangers of making calls, writing texts and e-mails and using social media while motoring.

Copyright Press Association 2013