California residents often rely on handheld devices while driving. It is one of the most common ways to navigate, as many phones have GPS systems and maps. Some jobs even require the use of handheld devices. A major problem is the distraction these devices cause and the crashes they lead to.
The development of hands-free tech supposedly helps with this. But how true is that? How safe are drivers who rely on these devices?
Hands-free tech vs visual and physical distraction
The National Safety Council views the impact of hands-free tech on overall driver safety. It is true that hands-free tech does address some areas of driver distraction. But it cannot address them all.
The areas hands-free tech excel in are combating physical and visual distractions. Physical distractions include anything that takes your hands from the wheel. Visual distractions will take your eyes from the road. Plenty of things can create both types of distractions. Handheld devices are notorious for doing both at the same time. After all, you must hold and touch the device to use it in most cases. You also need to look at the screen to read directions or view maps. Fortunately, hands-free tech handles this for you. It allows you to give voice commands and receive audio replies.
Cognitive distraction as a weak point
But hands-free tech cannot do anything about cognitive distractions. These distractions include anything that takes your mind off of the road. Unfortunately, hands-free tech may actually contribute to cognitive distractions. You cannot use a handheld device without some level of mental distraction. Because of this, hands-free tech cannot fully guarantee the safety of the user.