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Study: Hands-Free Technology Distracting Behind Wheel
A new study shows that drivers can still be distracted even if their hands are on the wheel and their eyes on the road.
Research from AAA finds hands-free technology isn't necessarily free of risk.
In fact, the auto club is calling it a "public safety crisis."
Dashboard technology is growing in popularity.
It's voice activated, and it allows users to speak a command to text, email or make a phone call.
But, a new study finds it's actually more distracting than just talking on a cell phone.
From talking on a cell phone to listening to loud music or eating a meal, the distractions behind the wheel are endless.
"It's amazing the things that people do," said Springfield driver Vito Prinzavalli. "They're on the phone driving, reading a magazine, maps. It's crazy."
"I've seen even people with more than one phone, and you see them looking down," said Springfield driver Benita Longoria.
It's enough to irritate one Springfield driver.
"That's concerning me and unsafe, because you have other people's lives in your hands," said driver Patricia Berardo.
The head of AAA's Foundation for Traffic Safety says people develop "inattention blindness" when they're distracted by another task.
Research shows a driver's reaction time slows, as their mental workload increases - even if they're using hands-free technology.
And that can lead to missing stop signs, stopped cars or other cars on the road.
Sangamon County sheriff's deputies frequently see this firsthand.
"The problem is the distraction itself," said Sangamon County Undersheriff Jack Campbell. "Even if you're using a Bluetooth or hands free, you're still talking to somebody and focusing on something other than the job at hand. You're going down the road driving a 3,000-pound missile. It's very important you focus on it."
Texting while driving is against the law in Illinois.
Both the House and Senate passed a bill this spring to ban the use of handheld cell phones behind the wheel.
That now awaits the governor's signature.
But, with the number of cars and trucks with dashboard technology expected to reach 62 million in the next five years, AAA is urging lawmakers to considering limiting the use of that new technology.
AAA is asking lawmakers to consider limiting the voice-activated technology to "core driving tasks"- like cruise and climate control.
But, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers isn't sure.
The trade group says the report could send a misleading message by suggesting hands-free devices are equally risky.