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Cell Phone use and Automobile Safety

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In a prior entry onto this forum, I cited research from the National Highway Safety Administration concerning inattentiveness as a major cause of motor vehicle collisions. According to this organization, driver inattentiveness while talking on a cellphone can be one characteristic of inattentiveness.

As cellphone use rises each year, one question which comes to mind is whether hands free devices really help drivers pay more attention to the road or whether these devices are yet another distraction. A study published in June, 2005 by the National Highway Safety Administration entitled “Hand-held or hands-free? The effects of wireless phone interface type on phone task performance and driver preference” addressed the effectiveness of hands-free devices raising general questions about the advantages of technologies designed to minimize risk of car accidents. The study compared the speed to make a call when using a cell-phone device, a headset, and a voice-activated command. The findings of the study suggested that voice-activated commands require longer delay and the authors suggested further study to understand the correlation between delay in making and placing a call and driver distraction from the task of driving.

I think this study discounts several points about the advantages of hands-free calling. I believe that hands-free devices are designed to keep your hands on the steering wheel and allow you to drive defensively. If you intend to use a cellphone in a car, then act carefully. A hands free or voice activated control can assist you in keeping your eyes on the road and minimizing dialing distractions while driving. The study did not address the fact that drivers can continue to pay attention to the roadway using voice-activated controls rather than having to look at a cellphone device and manually input a telephone number when using a cellphone. I think that the bottom line should simply require all of us to be careful everytime we drive and keep our cellphone time to a minimum when we’re on the road. I also think that hands free kits and voice activated controls can help us keep our hands on the steering wheel while we drive and that simple fact can save lives. Therefore, If used properly, hands-free devices can minimize risk of injury while driving. What do you think?