Hand-Free Mobiles are Dangerous for Motorist

A new study at the University of Sussex reveals that conversations while driving can make the drivers visually imagine about what they are speaking. Scientists of the study show that during conversations, a part of the normal human brain is used which is usually used to look at the road. The study was published in the Transportation Research Journal.

The much known fact to us is that it is illegal in the UK and many countries to ride a motorcycle or drive using hand-held phones or similar devices.

As per the BBC report, Drivers would get an automatic fixed penalty notice if they caught using it. They will charge with three penalty points on their license and a fine of 100 pounds.
The law currently says drivers can use hands-free phones, satellite navigators, and two-way radios, but if the police think the driver is distracted and not in control of the vehicle, they could get penalized.

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The study involved 20 men and 40 women volunteers who took part in video tests while sitting in a car seat behind a steering wheel. One group of volunteers were allowed to “drive” undistracted while another two heard a male voice asking questions like, “Where did you leave the blue file?” from a loudspeaker 90 centimeters away.

Dr. Graham Hole, Who was Senior Lecturer in Psychology, University of Sussex stated that “A popular misconception in using a mobile phone while driving is safe as long as the driver uses a hands-free phone. Our research shows this is not the case. Hands-free is equally distracting because conversations cause the driver to visually imagine what they’re talking. This visual imagery competes for processing resources with what the driver sees in front of them on the road.”

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“Our findings have implications for real-life mobile phone conversations. The person at the other end of the phone might ask “where did you leave the blue file?” which causing the driver to mentally search a remembered room. The driver may also simply imagine the facial expression of the person whom they’re talking to.

“Clearly this research isn’t a green light to use hand-held mobile phones while driving, however. The use of hand-held phones was made illegal because they interfere while controlling vehicle, but our study adds to a mounting body of research showing that both hands-free and hand-held phones are distracting the drivers. The only ‘safe’ phone in a car is one that’s switched off.

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“Conversations are more visual than we might expect, leading drivers to ignore parts of the outside world in favor of their inner ‘visual world’ — with concerning implications for road safety,” added Dr. Hole.

“However, chatty passengers tend to pose less of a risk than mobile phone conversations. They will usually moderate the conversation when road hazards arise. Someone on the other end of a phone is oblivious to the other demands on the driver and so keeps talking. And talking in person involves non-verbal cues which ease the flow of conversation. Phone conversations are more taxing because they lack these cues,” added Dr. Hole

In the second experiment, the researchers revealed that the distracted drivers suffered from “visual tunneling.” While the undistracted drivers ee movements ranged over a much wider area. Distracted participants could focus their eyes on a small region.