NZH: Hand-held, hands-free – bad call

Tony Lambert, senior lecturer in psychology at the University of Auckland and Charlene Hallett has recently submitted an MSc thesis investigating cellphone use and driving, discuss the pitfalls of hands-free and handheld mobile phone use while driving.

“It appears that the conversation itself is the vital factor, rather than the physical demand of holding and manipulating the phone. Interestingly, the same impairments are not seen when a driver converses with a passenger who is physically present.

“A crucial factor here seems to be that road conditions are visible to both driver and passenger. This enables conversation to be paced in response to changing traffic conditions, or even paused during a demanding manoeuvre, such as turning right at a busy junction.

“Some authors believe that talking on a cellphone, whether hand-held or hands-free, while driving can induce inattention blindness. To illustrate this blindness, there is a wonderful video produced at Harvard University.”