Think talking on your hands-free while driving is safe? Think again, says new research
Driving while talking on a hands-free phone can be as distracting as talking on a hand-held mobile, psychologists at the University of Sussex say.
The study, published in the Transportation Research journal, found that drivers having conversations which sparked their visual imagination detected fewer road hazards than those who didn’t. They also focused on a smaller area of the road ahead of them and failed to see hazards, even when they looked directly at them. This shows the risks of even hands-free phone conversations.
The researchers found that conversations may use more of the brain’s visual processing resources than previously understood. Having a conversation which requires the driver to use their visual imagination creates competition for the brain’s processing capacity, which results in drivers missing road hazards that they might otherwise have spotted.
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