Drivers Dangerously Distracted:

DistractdDrivingHands free still ‘substantial mental distraction’

By Katherine Koenig ~ With hands-free technologies like Bluetooth and Siri, it’s now easier for drivers to talk or text – but a new study proves that hands-free isn’t any safer than using a hand-held cell phone.
“We believe there is a public safety crisis looming,” says AAA Highway Safety national communications official Yolanda Cade.
New findings from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety show dangerous mental distractions exist even when drivers keep their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. Brain function was compromised resulting in drivers not seeing items right in front of them – including stop signs and pedestrians.
“People aren’t seeing what they need to see to drive and that’s the scariest part,” says Peter Kissinger, president and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
Some automakers are even enticing new-car buyers with dashboard systems that allow drivers use voice commands to post Facebook messages or even order pizza. More tasks mean more likelihood for a driver is to develop what researchers call “tunnel vision” or “inattention blindness.”
“Police accident investigative reports are filled with comments like the ‘looked, but did not see,’” adds Kissinger.
Smart Arizonans will take note of the new study and refocus on driving – using email, texting or calling for a pizza hands free – only while the car is parked. | CST

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