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Hands free phones may still distract you on the road

A cell phone in the hand of a motorist is a recipe for increased risk of an auto accident on Illinois roads. This is why some people consider a hands free phone, which allows a motorist to keep both hands on the wheel while holding a conversation, as a viable safety alternative. However, some studies show that hands free phones are not a cure for distracted driving.

An article by the website Medical Daily described a 2015 University of Sussex study that found Bluetooth devices used for cell phones, while they could keep the hands of drivers on the wheel, still could not keep a motorist’s full attention on what was occurring on the road. A senior psychology lecturer at the University of Sussex, Dr. Graham Hole, claimed in a statement that drivers create an “inner world” while they converse with a person through a cell phone, and that drivers may ignore aspects of the real world and focus instead on that inner world.

Further evidence was provided by the National Security Council, which posted an infographic detailing the problems of distracted driving. Even while using hands free devices, a driver can miss seeing as much as 50 percent of what is occurring through a windshield while talking on a cell phone. The NSC infographic states that the problem arises from the human brain’s difficulty in performing two actions at the same time. While the brain can switch from one task to another, it cannot literally do two tasks at the same time. A person's divided attention prohibits an individual from doing multiple tasks as well as if the person was completely focused on one task.

Additionally, the infographic shows that when a person engages in a cell phone conversation on the road, brain activity that processes moving images decreases by up to a third. The phone conversation itself, even though it may not literally take a driver’s eyes off the road, actually limits a person’s field of vision. Basically, a driver must not only have eyes on the road and hands on the wheel, but should also dedicate the mind to the task of driving.

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