Study: Hands-Free Devices Reduce Crash Risk

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Feb. 12, 2019—New research from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute suggests that drivers who use hands-free electronic devices, as opposed to handheld ones, are not increasing their risk of getting into a crash.

The study found that the primarily cognitive secondary task of talking on a hands-free device does not have detrimental effects, reported Insurance JournalThe researchers sought to determine the extent to which crash risk could be affected by primarily mental behaviors, known as cognitive distractions. Cognitive distractions occupy the mind but do not require the driver to look away from the road or remove his or her hands from the wheel.

Drivers who used a hand-held phone increased their crash risk by 2 to 3.5 times compared to model drivers, defined as being alert, attentive, and sober.

When a combination of cognitive secondary tasks was observed, the crash risk also went up, although not to nearly the same degree. In some cases, hands-free cell phone use was associated with a lower crash rate than the control group. None of the 275 more serious property damage and injury crashes analyzed were associated with the use of hands-free systems.


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