State Police: “Hands-free” devices aren’t as safe as you think

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Pennsylvania State Police say recent studies have prompted them to warn drivers about the dangers of “hands-free” cell phone use.

Reports from the University of Utah show people talking on the phone – even using Bluetooth and speakerphone features – have less control over their cars than some drunk drivers.

That same study shows drivers talking on cell phones are 18 percent slower to react to break lights, and take 17 percent longer to regain their speed.

“You’re getting an attention blindness to what’s going on around you,” AAA Central Penn Director of Marketing and Public Relations Shawn Kaup said. “You’re not holding the phone to your ear, so you don’t realize that you’re doing something other than driving.”

That’s why the University of Utah’s study shows drivers are more likely to speed if they have the false sense of security that comes from speakerphone and Bluetooth features.

“The bottom line is that it’s still a distraction,” Trooper Adam Reed said. “While you’re speaking on the phone, mentally it distracts you from the task at hand, and that task is to safely navigate the road.”

All states in the U.S. have laws allowing hands-free usage of cell phones while driving. But Pennsylvania State Police say their message is clear – “hands-free” does not automatically mean “risk-free.”

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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