Hands-free cellphone use: Moderate risk
Hands-free cellphone technology has been touted as a solution to phone-based driver distractions. But the AAA researchers found about the same amount of risk as with hand-held phones.
David Teater, senior director of transportation strategic initiatives at the National Safety Council, says he is not surprised.
"Hands-free does not prevent cognitive distraction," he says.
Other experts have reached the same conclusion. A 2010 study by the Highway Loss Data Institute, a research organization supported by car insurance companies, found no reduction in crashes in states that banned hand-held devices while driving and said the risk is about the same, whether phones are hand-held or hands-free.
Teater says at least 30 major studies have reached similar conclusions.
"The only thing that changes when using hands-free is that one hand goes back on the steering wheel," he says. "We have been driving manual-shift transmissions for years and have not worried about it as a safety hazard."