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Tech-Friendly: AAA: ‘Hands-free’ cell phone use doesn’t mean risk-free

December 30, 2013

By Paul Gorski

Beginning Jan. 1, 2014, it will be illegal to use a hand-held cell phone (except for emergencies) while driving. Read more about the law at: “Illinois drivers prepare for hand-held phone ban,” http://rockrivertimes.com/happening-now/2013/12/23/illinois-drivers-prepare-for-hand-held-phone-ban/, posted Dec. 23.

This new law is expected to cause most cell/smartphone users to use wireless headsets and speakerphones while driving. However, a study by the AAA Foundation For Traffic Safety clearly shows that even hands-free smartphone use causes distracted driving conditions, and that, quote: “hands-free” does not mean risk-free! The full study is posted at https://www.aaafoundation.org/measuring-cognitive-distractions.

The study found that hands-free cell phone use may contribute to: “suppressed brain activity,” “increased reaction time,” “missed cues,” and “decreased visual scanning.”

Distracted driving has been identified as a cause for more than 3,000 deaths per year. Health and safety advocates and elected officials have been working to reduce these fatalities by reducing the amount of time drivers spend chatting and texting on their phones while driving. Texting while driving has been illegal in Illinois since January 2010.

Given that hand-held and hands-free phone use, as well as texting, while driving can cause a situation leading to death, I encourage you to put that phone down and away while driving. It might be legal to use your phone “hands-free,” but that doesn’t make it right. Tell your family about your bad day at work when get home, so you actually do make it home.

This state of Illinois site has more information about distracted driving: http://www.illinoistollway.com/drive-now-text-later.

I wish you and your family a safe and happy new year.

Paul Gorski (www.paulgorski.com) has been a technology manager nearly 20 years, specializing in workflow solutions for printing, publishing and advertising computer users. Originally destined to be a chemist, his interest in computers began in college when he wrote a program to analyze data from lab instruments he hard-wired to the back of an Apple Iie.

From the Jan. 1-6, 2014, issue

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