"Simply listening to a cellphone distracts drivers, a study concludes. The finding raises questions about the effectiveness of laws that ban only the use of handheld devices while driving.
California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Washington, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands prohibit drivers from using handheld cellphones, but no jurisdiction bans hands-free phones, says Jonathan Adkins, spokesman for the Governors Highway Safety Association, which represents state and territorial highway safety offices.
Allowing hands-free phones "really gives drivers a false sense of safety," Adkins says. He adds that he has seen no evidence that bans on handheld phones have prevented accidents.
Neuroscientist Marcel Just, director of the Center for Cognitive Brain Imaging at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, agrees. Just studied 29 volunteers who used a driving simulator while inside an MRI brain scanner. The volunteers steered a car along a virtual winding road undisturbed or while deciding whether a sentence they heard was true or false.
Listening while driving led to a "significant deterioration in driving accuracy," Just and his co-authors write in the latest issue of the journal Brain Research. The drivers hit the guardrail and veered out of the center of the lane more often while listening." (Continued via texturaly.org, USA Today) [Ergonomics Resources]