Do hands free kits hamper our driving abilities?

by Andrew Roach on March 1, 2013

Hands free kits have provided us for years with a safe and manageable way to communicate with others whilst we are on the road.

However, a new study by a team of researchers in Toronto has found that the set-up could actually be a significant distraction to our driving.

The results found that the hands free kits hampered our ability to make left turns on the road and still distract the mind from other important actions.

Traditionally, hands free kits have been regarded as the safest way to communicate whilst in a car as we can avoid holding the phone and indeed looking at the screen too.

But the research, carried out by a team at the St Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, found that using hands free kits still proved to be a distraction to our minds as we focus on the conversation more than anything else.

This interference could have serious repercussions on what our brain may be able to do with the ability to turn left being one of the main activities that the brain struggled to perform.

Using an MRI machine to measure brain activity, the team were able to notice that has the conversation began, the blood flow was distributed to other areas which focused on talking rather than concentrating on the road.

The leader of the team, Dr Tom Schweizer, believed that the tests proved that hands free kits don’t entirely solve the problems of using mobile phones in a car. In an interview with CBC, he said that “Hands-free isn’t brains-free. You’re still distracting the individual. You’re still processing information, which could take [brain] resources away from the primary task of driving.”

At the moment, hands free kits are perfectly legal to use whilst driving in all provinces although directly using the mobile phone whilst behind the wheel is completely illegal.

Although all the tests shown that the brain was distracted whilst on the phone, other key senses such as vision and movement weren’t affected in any way.

The findings certainly aren’t going to affect the way we use hands free kits in the car however it does give food for thought about whether we can really use our phones on the road and still remain fully focused on all our actions.

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Voice controls are deadlier than cell phones while driving —
June 13, 2013 at 6:13 am

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