Hands-free devices while driving not necessarily safer

Common sense would prevail, in addition to laws in many jurisdictions around the world, including India, that using a hands-free device while driving can in fact be distracting for the driver and lead to driver error.

With hand-free devices such as BlueTooth, and other entertainment media kits and packages available for most vehicles, drivers are now faced with multi-tasking between driving and either talking or texting.

In India, the law is plain and simple: no use of mobile devices while driving. Unfortunately, either because of drivers' attitudes or even worse, poor enforcement, most drivers typically do so. As more consumers purchase mobile phones, the need to be connected on the go has also grown. Many forget that driving isn't a right, it's a privilege that comes with a great deal of responsibility.

It's a well known fact that India's roads are some of the most dangerous to maneuver in the world, because of the sheer volume and traffic, leading to congestion. To further illustrate this point and drive it home, imagine a three lane highway or road, that doubles up into a six lane frenzy with both pedestrians and vehicles of all sorts fighting their way through. Sometimes, there are even animals too.  


In addition to this, there's the even larger group of drivers who simply don't obey the rules of the road, with jumping red lights a common occurrence.

Add drivers using hands-free devices to that mix, and there will be just accidents waiting to happen.

Drivers who talk using a hands-free device made significantly more driving errors, compared with just driving without using the devices, according to a study by a professor in the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Alberta, Yagesh Bhambhani and his graduate student Mayank Rehani, cited by TechGig.com.

According to the DailyMail, in this study, the researchers examined the brain activity of 26 participants using a Virage VS500M driving simulator. The 26 participants were first tested in a control condition, that is using the simulator to drive through virtual city streets and using no mobile devices. Then, they were then tested again while talking on a hands-free device. Finally, the participants were engaged in two-minute conversations that avoided emotionally charged topics. The researchers found there was a significant increase in brain activity while talking on a hands-free device when compared with the control condition.

Participant errors included but were not limited to: crossing the median, changing lanes without using indicators, and speeding. The jump in errors also correspond with a spike in both brain activity and heart rate.

In my opinion, If devices such as speed detector radars in vehicles can be banned, similar action for hands-free devices should also be taken. Or perhaps another option would to make these devices inoperable when driving a vehicle, as hands-free devices such as BlueTooth can still be useful and less dangerous in other scenarios and situations, such as boardroom meetings.

Then again, it would probably take years of boardroom meetings to outlaw these devices from the roads to begin with. If anything at the least, mobile operators should educate users with more advertisements and material about the dangers of using their mobile device and even hands-free devices whiles driving.