Legislation designed to ban the use of handheld devices has the potential to reduce distracted driving incidents. Critics contend that it also has the potential to encourage the use of hands-free devices, which may be even more distracting than their handheld counterparts leading to additional car and truck accidents. A recent study conducted by AAA found that voice activated devices, including those increasingly used in dashboard technology, are a greater distraction than conducting a phone call on a handheld device. The Illinois House and Senate have passed a measure to ban the use of handheld devices. It is currently awaiting the signature of Governor Quinn.
The AAA study reported that 9 million cars are currently on the road with built-in technology utilizing voice-activation. It estimates that the number of vehicles with this technology will increase to 62 million by 2018. The auto group has asked legislators to limit such devices to those that affect "core driving tasks."
Distractions come in many forms. Drivers who are eating, adjusting the heater or air conditioning, programming a navigation device or even listening to the radio may not have their full attention on the road. Cars have long come equipped with radios and other devices that encourage drivers to take at least one hand off the wheel, as well as their attention off the road. Drivers need to be aware that any device or action that takes their mind off the act of safe driving could lead to an accident.
Source: Fox Illinois, "Study: Hands-Free Technology Distracting Behind Wheel," 17 June 2013