Driving while talking with Bluetooth or another wireless technology is just as distracting as driving with a handheld mobile phone. This was the conclusion of a study done by Dr. Haque in Queensland, Australia at the School of Civil Engineering and Built Environment and Centre for Accident Research & Road Safety. He used the CARRS-Q Advanced Driving Simulator to test reaction time and driving performance. Dr. Haque describes the experiment:
We took a group of drivers and exposed them to a virtual road network which included a pedestrian entering the driver’s peripheral vision from a footpath and walking across a pedestrian crossing.
We then monitored the driver’s performance and reaction times during hands-free and hand-held phone conversations and without.
The reaction time of drivers participating in either a hand-held or hands-free conversation was more than 40 per cent longer than those not using a phone.
In real terms this equates to a delayed response distance of about 11m for a vehicle travelling at 40km/h.
This shows hands-free and hand-held phone conversations while driving have similar detrimental effects in responding to a very common peripheral event of a pedestrian entering a crossing from the footpath.
Dr. Haque explains the results as well:
It appears that the increased brain power required to hold a phone conversation can alter a drivers’ visual scanning pattern.
In other words the human brain compensates for receiving increased information from a mobile phone conversation by not sending some visual information to the working memory, leading to a tendency to ‘look at’ but not ‘see’ objects by distracted drivers.
Source: Science Daily