Is your hands free system safer than your cell phone?
Despite the public outcry about distracted driving in the past few years, texting while driving and other forms of cell phone use are still a problem on Florida’s roads. Manufacturers have ostensibly dealt with this problem by adding larger radio displays, maps or other interactive features could possibly reduce the amount of time a driver takes his or her eyes away from the road while looking at the display.
Additionally, many more new vehicles have hands free systems as part of their entertainment packages. These modules allow drivers to make calls by using buttons on a car’s steering wheel, and the car’s speaker system can be used to transfer audio from the phone itself. Hands free or Bluetooth systems have gained popularity because of the notion that they are safer while driving than using a cell phone by itself.
However, this notion could be just a clever marketing ploy. According to the National Safety Council, Bluetooth systems are no safer than using traditional cell phones. The NSC cites several studies finding that the brain cannot process information in a way that would allow it to operate a car and the hands free system at the same time. One function essentially has to take precedence at a time. The researchers quoted likened the capacity needed to dialing a phone while reading a newspaper at the same time.
As such, it is worth noting that even though a driver is using a hands free system in accordance with Florida law, he or she could still be held liable in a crash if their attention is diverted from the road.