Is a hands-free phone safer than a handheld phone while driving?

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Introduction: Although it is becoming more and more accepted that driving while talking on a cell phone can be hazardous, most jurisdictions are making handheld phone use illegal while allowing hands-free phone use.

Methods: The scientific literature exploring the effects of these two types of cell phone use on driving and driving-related performance is reviewed here.

Results: Our review shows that talking on the phone, regardless of phone type, has negative impacts on performance especially in detecting and identifying events. Performance while using a hands-free phone was rarely found to be better than when using a handheld phone. Some studies found that drivers compensate for the deleterious effects of cell phone use when using a handheld phone but neglect to do so when using a hands-free phone.

Impact on Industry: Current research does not support the decision to allow hands-free phone use while driving.

Source: “Is a hands-free phone safer than a handheld phone?” from Journal of Safety Research, Volume 40, Issue 2, 2009, Pages 157-164

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