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80% incorrectly say hands-free cell safer than hand held

NSC poll found that 53 percent of respondents believe hands-free devices must be safe to use if they are built into vehicles. (The Trucker file photo)

The Trucker News Services

4/1/2014

ITASCA, Ill. —New findings from a National Safety Council public opinion poll indicate 80 percent of drivers across America incorrectly believe that hands-free devices are safer than using a handheld phone.

However, more than 30 studies show hands-free devices are no safer than handheld as the brain remains distracted by the cell phone conversation, an NSC official said. Of the poll participants who admitted to using hands-free devices, 70 percent said they do so for safety reasons.

“While many drivers honestly believe they are making the safe choice by using a hands-free device, it’s just not true,” said David Teater, senior director of Transportation Initiatives at the National Safety Council. “The problem is the brain does not truly multi-task. Just like you can’t read a book and talk on the phone, you can’t safely operate a vehicle and talk on the phone. With some state laws focusing on handheld bans and carmakers putting hands-free technology in vehicles, no wonder people are confused.”

Currently, no state or municipality has passed a law banning hands-free use, but 12 states and the District of Columbia have passed laws banning handheld cell phone use while driving. Further, an increasing amount of vehicles are now equipped with dashboard infotainment systems that allow drivers to make hands-free calls as well as send text messages, email and update social media statuses. The NSC poll found that 53 percent of respondents believe hands-free devices must be safe to use if they are built into vehicles.

To debunk the hands-free myth, the Council has selected “Hands-free is not risk-free“ for its April Distracted Driving Awareness Month campaign.

Interested persons can help raise awareness by sharing the posters, fact sheets, infographics and more available at nsc.org/handsfree. Interested persons can take the pledge to drive cell free at www.nsc.org/pledge.

The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at editor@thetrucker.com.

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