Texting While Driving Hands-Free Is Still Very Unsafe, Says Science

By Leslie Horn on at

California just passed a law that says drivers are free to text and email while they drive, as long as they're doing it by voice. Sounds safer, right? Not exactly, according to quite a bit of research.

Opponents of the law—specifically the National Safety Council for California—are calling for its repeal, citing years and years of evidence that says you're almost just as distracted when you use voice controls, even though your hands are free:

No surprise that drivers who texted by hand drove very poorly: they reported greater mental demand during the drive, took longer glances away from the roadway, and steered worse compared to baseline driving performance. Those who used the in-vehicle system did a little better. They didn't have much problem receiving text messages through the in-car system, but sending them posed a problem.

One study even compared your cognitive state—texting with or without hands—to that of someone who had a blood alcohol level of around 0.8, the legal limit in most states. While your mitts are free, your mind is still elsewhere. And that doesn't exactly make you a safe driver. So this kind of legislation doesn't exactly do us any favours. [The Atlantic Cities]

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