The great handsfree debate

Scientific research somehow manages to prove common sense. For instance, research shows that if you give people too many choices, their reaction time in making a choice is much slower. That is one of the main reasons why many states have laws requiring drivers to “use “hands-free” devices when they talk on a cell phone and operate a car. The theory is, a driver will have slower reaction time – and thus be potentially dangerous – holding a phone and operating a car at the same time. Research by a Rice University professor suggests those new laws may not be effective. Kinesiologist Bruce Etnyre’s tests suggest that neither device should be used by someone while operating a car.

When his subjects had to split their attention between four different lights, their reaction time was noticeably diminished. Similarly, drivers using either type of cell phone are necessarily splitting their attention between their phone conversation and their driving, and that, according to Etnyre, is what will slow their reaction time. “Whether the driver’s hands are on the wheel or free doesn’t make a difference in how fast they can react to something on the road,” Etnyre says. “It’s not necessarily a matter of physically controlling the car while holding the phone. It’s the fact that they have to switch their attention between driving the car and listening and talking with someone.

Oh I agree… since I don’t drive, and have always been scared of the crazy drivers, you should see my white knuckles when I am in the passenger seat and the driver is chatting on the phone. This problem is especially severe when the driver happens to be a cabbie. Or a so called master/mistress of the Universe driving a BMW down to San Jose, and try and attend conference calls while driving. I think just like drunk-driving is illegal, they should simply ban driving-while-talking and penalize people for putting other people’s life at risk.


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