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AAA: Hands Free Just as Dangerous as Using Phone

Posted at: 06/12/2013 7:08 PM
By: Jenna Lohse

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- We all know it's dangerous to text behind the wheel. But for those of you who think you're safe using new technology that lets you call and change the radio station hands free, a new study says otherwise.

Most new cars have these systems that let you communicate while keeping your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. A new AAA study says these alternatives are actually more dangerous.

By using voice activation, drivers can do almost anything in cars these days.

"If I want to change a station on my radio, I can easily do that without me having to move my eyes off the road and even taking my hands off the wheel," said John Chang of Rochester.

John Chang can't imagine driving a car without technology assisting him. Many car dealers say an “infotainment” system is the selling point for many buyers.

"Most all the younger generation is asking for it immediately," said Kevin Reynolds, car dealer at Adamson Motors.

But a new AAA study says this hands free alternative is actually more distracting than using a cellphone while driving, because even though your hands may not leave the wheel, your mind is still in another place.

"Whether it's hands free, whether it's texting, you're still distracted while you're driving and that's a big factor in a lot of crashes nowadays," said Minnesota State Trooper Mitch Elzen.

Kevin Reynolds of Adamson Motors in Rochester says the voice activated systems are helpful to drivers as long as they know how to use them, and learning on the go is when it becomes a distraction.

"That's not the time to learn, the time to learn is when you're in park so you can use it properly and safely," said Reynolds.

"You need to be able to learn some of these new technologies that are in these cars these days," said Chang.

The survey also found that using hands free devices that translate your voice into text is the most distracting of all.