These days it is hard to spot a person that doesn’t own a smartphone of some description, whether it is an Apple iPhone, an Android-based phone such as the Samsung Galaxy, or even a BlackBerry. Smartphones are more than just mobile phones; they enable us to effectively communicate with people in a number of ways. For example, most of us use our smartphones to send emails and text messages, have instant message conversations and make video calls to friends, family members and work colleagues.
In many countries around the world, it is illegal to use a mobile phone whilst you are driving, even if you are waiting in a traffic jam or at the lights. Despite these tough laws to curb mobile phone use whilst driving, many motorists still break the law.
One way that tech firms have come up with to supposedly make driving and using your smartphone safer is by creating handsfree kits. In a nutshell, these are simple gadgets that consist of a microphone and earpiece, and connect directly to your smartphone’s headphones port.
Many handsfree kits on the market these days are wireless, and work by “pairing” your smartphone with a Bluetooth earpiece or a device that fits onto the sun visor on your windscreen.
Do handsfree kits make driving safer?
The main selling point behind handsfree kits is that they are supposed to make your life behind the wheel safer, because you don’t have to fiddle around with your smartphone’s menu systems and buttons.
Handsfree kits have been designed so that motorists don’t generally have to do anything that will divert their eyes and hands away from the road and steering wheel respectively. But there has been speculation about whether they really do make driving and using a mobile phone safer, as a recent news article from the Daily Mail suggests.
The article states that researchers from America’s AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety have concluded that using handsfree kits cause an extensive risk to drivers and pedestrians; suggesting that they aren’t really any safer than using a smartphone!
The reasons for this conclusion are as follows:
Mental activity increases when you have to “do” something, such as pressing the answer call button on your smartphone or giving it some verbal instructions;
This increased activity means that you are less likely to concentrate on the road.
According to the head of sales for RRG Kia, Apple has recently announced their “CarPlay” system, which enables drivers to use many of their iPhone smartphone’s functions using voice commands via the phone’s voice-controlled system, Siri.
Although this might have an improvement over “traditional” handsfree kits for smartphones, it still means that you are concentrating less because your mental activity is increasing; this is why there are notices up in some buses and long-distance coaches that say, “do not distract the driver” (by talking to them whilst they are driving)!
So, in short, handsfree kits probably aren’t any better than holding your smartphone in your hand and using it, but they are still safer to use than the alternative!