Understanding the distracted brain. Why driving while using hands-free cell phones is risky behavior.

National Safety Council
National Safety Council

This literature review by the National Safety Council examined the reasons that hands-free cell phone use while driving is dangerous. The objective of the report was to provide background and context for lawmakers and employers considering legislation and policies. A definition of distracted driving is provided, and the inability of drivers to multitask and its safety consequences are discussed. Following a broad overview of the distracted driving problem, the risks associated with the use of hands-free phones while driving is presented along with the implications for safe driving. The authors suggest that widespread education is needed about the risks of hands-free devices, conversation, and cognitive distraction. In addition, consumers should consider their exposure to cognitive distraction and increased crash risk while using these in-vehicle technologies, and prevention strategies should consider how people behave in reality and not only how they should behave.

The report is concluded with a summary of important steps to help prevent the use of hands-free cell phones while driving, including legislation, high-visibility enforcement, and strict consequences. In addition, efforts must address the prevention of both handheld and hands-free cell phone use by drivers.

National Safety Council (2010). Understanding the distracted brain: Why driving while using hands-free cell phones is risky behavior. 1-24.