MN Driving Instructor: Hands-Free Devices More Distracting

Posted at: 06/12/2013 4:43 PM
Updated at: 06/12/2013 6:24 PM
By: Josh Rosenthal

A new AAA study found that hands-free devices used to text or send emails while driving are actually more dangerous than holding a cell phone up to your ear.

The study calls hands-free devices a cognitive distraction because they suppress brain activity and increase reaction time.

Click here to read the study.

The findings don't surprise at least one driving instructor, who told 5 Eyewitness News that as technology evolves, so do driving lessons. Bruce Anderson works for A+ Driving School, a metro-based driving instructor business.

"When I first started teaching for A+ five years ago," Anderson said, "it was not much of a topic." But now - it's a different story, he said.

"It's extremely dangerous," Anderson said, referring to the use of technology while driving. "It's as dangerous or more dangerous than driving while impaired."

When it comes to traveling while using technology though, Anderson - who's also a retired Orono police officer - said he's less worried about his students and more worried about motorists in their mid-20s and older.

"They're using it more because of work and all their other, you know, social lives and everything else," he said. The student driving next to him backed up his sentiment.

"Use your phone and everything when you're not in the car," said 16-year-old Maddie Zitzlsperger.

We decided to check it out for ourselves.

On a drive from Plymouth to St. Paul - which took fewer than 30 minutes - we caught five people using some sort of technology while driving, and they weren't teens.

On top of that, AAA says more than 3,000 people die from distracted driving related incidents every year. That's why Anderson's message is simple.

"Leave your electronic devices alone," he said. Adding, "concentrate on operating the motor vehicle."

While 44 states ban texting while driving, no states ban hands-free devices.