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Health & Balance

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Study: Hands-Free Headsets Don't Improve Driving Safety

Hands-Free Headsets Aren't Safer for Drivers Than Holding Cell Phone

Cell Phones and Driving: Safety Issues continued...

To those who say a passenger is equally distracting, Schwebel disagrees. "Passengers tend to stop talking or recognize a pause in the conversation when drivers are in a difficult situation," he says, but those on the other end of the cell phone may not.

''Driving may seem routine, but it isn't," Schwebel says. "Driving is hard and it requires your full brain capacity to drive safely. When you are on the phone, you are only using part of your brain to drive."

''The findings appear to replicate the work done in our lab and other labs over the last 10 years, showing that the negative impact on driving behavior does not differ between hands-free and handheld [cell phones]," says Frank Drews, PhD, associate professor of psychology at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City.

By now, he tells WebMD, the data have been well-duplicated.

Hands-Free Headsets: Industry View

In response to the new study, the Bluetooth SIG (Special Interest Group), a trade organization, issued a statement. It reads: "Using a Bluetooth enabled hands-free device allows users to keep both hands on the wheel while keeping their eyes on the road and ensures drivers are complying with distracted driving laws. Bluetooth wireless headsets and speakerphones provide an alternative to those people looking to communicate from the car, allowing them to do it with their hands-free. All drivers should assess their unique driving situation and make calling decisions accordingly."

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