Contrary to the vocal admonitions of the National Safety Council, lawmakers in California went ahead and made texting while driving permissible in certain circumstances. Specifically, drivers can now engage in the act if they use a voice-activated device that does not require one’s hands to manipulate. The thought is that this would provide a safe means of communicating at the wheel via text-based methods, and lawmakers agreed by sending the law to passage.
However, a new article takes a look at the evidence and comes to a very different conclusion than lawmakers. The author collects a wealth of evidence which shows that the method of texting has little impact when it comes to the level of impairment to driving ability. From sources as varied as the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute to the University of Utah to the New England Journal of Medicine, experts are largely in unison that hands-free communication still takes one’s mind off the road even while their hands remain on the wheel.
Texting using a handheld device will draw the eyes away from the road and prevent a split-second reaction that could save a life. But even hands-free devices have been shown to require greater attention than if one were to speak with a passenger or limit their communications altogether, especially when sending a message as opposed to receiving one.
Perhaps it’s best to just refrain from using a cellphone in any manner while driving. If you do that, you make sure you give your full and undivided attention to road safety.