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Hands-free texting not safe

It doesn’t matter if you are talking to your smartphone or looking at it—texting while driving is dangerous.


June 17, 2013
by Fleet Management staff

From the May 2013 print edition of Fleet Management

It doesn’t matter if you are talking to your smartphone or looking at it—texting while driving is dangerous.

“We did a thorough review of the available research and consistently found evidence that hands-free texting while driving is just as risky, if not riskier, than using a hand-held device to text while behind the wheel,” said Dr Richard Harkness, a traffic safety expert and CEO of ADEPT Driver, which compiled results from 36 studies on distracted driving.

Based on the performance of 43 research participants driving an actual vehicle on a closed course, a recently released analysis by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) compared drivers’ performance while texting hands-free, texting manually on a handheld device, and driving without any texting activity.

The TTI study found:

  • Driver response times were significantly delayed whether they were texting manually or hands-free. In each case, drivers took about twice as long to react as they did when they weren’t texting.
  • The amount of time drivers spent looking at the roadway ahead was significantly less when they were texting, no matter which texting method was used.
  • For most tasks, manual texting required slightly less time than the voice-to-text method, but driver performance was roughly the same with both.

“As transportation and traffic safety experts share research on the use of new voice-to-text technology in cars, there is growing awareness about just how dangerous it is to drive while texting hands-free,” said Harkness. “Auto manufacturers recognize the risk of texting while driving, so we applaud those that install technology to disable the texting function when car wheels are moving.”