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J Safety Res. 2009;40(2):157-64. doi: 10.1016/j.jsr.2009.02.006. Epub 2009 Apr 9.

Is a hands-free phone safer than a handheld phone?

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, Canada.



Although it is becoming more and more accepted that driving while talking on a cell phone can be hazardous, most jurisdictions are making handheld phone use illegal while allowing hands-free phone use.


The scientific literature exploring the effects of these two types of cell phone use on driving and driving-related performance is reviewed here.


Our review shows that talking on the phone, regardless of phone type, has negative impacts on performance especially in detecting and identifying events. Performance while using a hands-free phone was rarely found to be better than when using a handheld phone. Some studies found that drivers compensate for the deleterious effects of cell phone use when using a handheld phone but neglect to do so when using a hands-free phone.


Current research does not support the decision to allow hands-free phone use while driving.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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