Hands-free doesn’t equal risk-free

drivingMeant to replace hand-held cell phones while driving, hands-free devices—such as those featuring voice technology—don’t necessarily make multitasking while driving any safer, according to a report prepared for AAA. Like their counterparts, the hands-free devices, which use technology such as voice-detect and voice-to-email, draw a driver’s attention away from the road, making an accident more likely. In fact, more than 1,000 people are injured in accidents involving distracted drivers every day.

The report, compiled by the department of psychology at the University of Utah, covers such distractions as listening to the radio, talking with a passenger, talking on hand-held phones and using hands-free devices. The researchers found that reaction time and brain function were negatively impacted with an increase in distractions, making it easier to miss things like stop signs. In terms of rating distractions, listening to the radio was considered a very mild distraction, while voice-activated technology was rated as the highest risk. Your best bet? Stay off your cell phone and keep your eyes—and mind—on the road.