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Hands-Free Phone Calls While Driving Are Just As Distracting

Your reactions are 2x slower when using a hands-free kit.

08/06/2016 12:26 | Updated 08 June 2016
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Hands-free kits have had a tough time.

While openly ridiculed as a gadget, the Bluetooth headset has always persevered because it offered a 'safe' way of talking while driving in your car.

Sadly it looks like even that claim is now being brought into question as a University of Sussex study has revealed that talking on a hands-free kit while driving is just as distracting as holding the phone.

What the researchers found was that when people were engaged in a conversation which sparked their imagination they would become less focused on what was in front of them.

Matt Henry Gunther via Getty Images

In the case of driving they found that drivers on a call reacted a whole two times slower to a hazard than if they had been driving normally.

Unfortunately the news doesn't get any better either, the study found that drivers who were using a hands-free kit were focusing on an area ahead of them that was four times smaller than normal.

Dr Graham Hole, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Sussex, said:

“A popular misconception is that using a mobile phone while driving is safe as long as the driver uses a hands-free phone. Our research shows this is not the case."

The problem stems from the types of conversations we're having over the phone.

Svisio

If for example a person asks you to remember something, the brain will start mentally searching for that piece of information.

This is an intensive task and so naturally you become distracted.

Dr Hole explains that this doesn't really work when applied to just any conversation in a car, so for example with a passenger.

"Chatty passengers tend to pose less of a risk than mobile phone conversations. They will usually moderate the conversation when road hazards arise."

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