If you are like most people, you might be under the impression that using hands-free systems while driving is a safe alternative to manual systems. Studies by the AAA indicate that hands-free systems might cause distractions to drivers.
Hands-free systems allow you to increase vehicle temperature, make phone calls, compose text messages and more.
If your mind is not on the road, you can miss stop signs, red lights, vehicles or even pedestrians. It may take less than a second to miss a stop sign, but any misstep can lead to an accident. Many people use these systems to compose text messages or to send emails. This may not be any better than using a hand-held device to compose text.
Not all hands-free systems have a high accuracy rate. You may have to make corrections or struggle to command the system. This takes a lot of your attention from the road. Many people use these systems to change the radio or to voice dial. Inaccurate systems may cause you to change the station multiple times or you may call the wrong person.
When looking at different systems, a car that has an accurate system is less likely to cause any distractions. A good system causes about the same amount of distraction as an audiobook. An inaccurate system, however, can cause three times the distraction.
The AAA used heart-rate monitors and equipment to measure reaction times to show the faults in hands-free systems. Research shows that distraction and how it affects safety depends on the task and the system.