Hands-Free Mobiles Impair Driving Ability

A team of psychologists at the University of Illinois have been investigating how driving is affected by simultaneous mobile phone use.

Previous research has found the use of hands-free mobiles has a significant detrimental effect on driving. Researchers assumed that speaking is a more complex cognitive function and so the detrimental effect would be greater than listening. But this new research has found that listening causes an equally strong effect.

The psychological research has been backed up by investigations of those involved in road traffic accidents. Recent findings published in the British Medical Journal showed that using a mobile phone up to 10 minutes before a crash was associated with a fourfold increase in likelihood of crashing. This fourfold increase was the same whether the drivers were using a hands-free hand-held mobile.

Banning just hand-held mobile phone use while driving has probably been largely a waste of time – unless it is a stepping stone to a complete ban.

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Published: 26 August 2005

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