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Driving while talking on a hands-free phone can be as distracting as talking on a hand-held mobile and here's why...
So you're smugly driving along chatting to a mate on your Bluetooth headset and because you're all rigged up now, instead of sneaking the odd hands-on call at the traffic lights, your halo suddenly appears. TING!
You're doing the right thing! WRONG!
Researchers at the University of Sussex say making hands-free calls from your mobile phone has just been scientifically proven to be dangerous.
A new study which tracked the eye movement of drivers found that even if you are hands-free, the act of engaging in a conversation itself, hands-free or not, diverts your attention and makes you react poorly to hazards on the road, meaning you only see dangers immediately in front of you. As you can imagine, most drivers fail to look further ahead and anticipate problems down the road.
Dr Graham Hole, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Sussex, said:
“A popular misconception is that using a mobile phone while driving is safe as long as the driver uses a hands-free phone. Our research shows this is not the case. Hands-free can be equally distracting because conversations cause the driver to visually imagine what they’re talking about. This visual imagery competes for processing resources with what the driver sees in front of them on the road.
“Our findings have implications for real-life mobile phone conversations. The person at the other end of the phone might ask “where did you leave the blue file?”, causing the driver to mentally search a remembered room. The driver may also simply imagine the facial expression of the person they’re talking to."
“Clearly this research isn’t a green light to use hand-held mobile phones while driving, however. The use of hand-held phones was made illegal primarily because they interfere with vehicle control; but our study adds to a mounting body of research showing that both hand-held and hands-free phones are dangerously distracting for drivers. The only ‘safe’ phone in a car is one that's switched off."
Researchers did however say that listening to the radio while driving was completely safe, we kid you not, so now you crank up heart conscience free and listen to your heart's content, see what we did there!