If driving is your primary transportation mode, the activity can start to feel routine or even effortless after a while. However, it’s vital for motorists not to forget each time they get behind the wheel that driving is a highly complex and fast-paced experience for their brain. Driving requires you to process information from multiple inputs that vary second by second. It may feel easy, but it demands your unwavering focus to stay safe.
When a person tries to allocate their attention to another task while driving – even for only a few seconds – their performance in both tasks suffer. This is because the brain cannot do two things at once; instead, it must switch between the two tasks, which slows reaction time.
But while many people are familiar with the distracting dangers of handheld cellphone use while driving, the same cannot be said for hands-free technology.
The dangers of hands-free
According to the National Safety Council, staying safe behind the wheel requires:
- Your eyes on the road
- Your hands on the wheel
- Your mind on driving
New hands-free technology and built-in “infotainment” dashboards in vehicles seem to offer a sense of security because they allow you to keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel. But unfortunately, hands-free doesn’t mean your mind won’t shift away from driving.
Research has shown that hands-free technology distracts the brain even long after your phone conversation is over. Drivers can miss up to 50% of their surroundings when talking on the phone – even when their hands are free.
Staying distraction-free while driving
According to the Mississippi State Department of Health, motorists should adhere to the following cellphone safety practices to avoid becoming distracted while driving:
- Turn off your cell phone while driving
- Don’t make or answer any calls unless it’s an emergency
- Don’t send or read text messages or emails
- Have a passenger use your phone for you
Remember, while it may seem like the responsible option, using hands-free or voice recognition technology while driving puts you and others on the road at risk. By keeping your sole focus on driving, you can help prevent potentially serious accidents.