Conventional wisdom says that by keeping your hands on the steering wheel and not on the phone, you will be a much safer driver. The problem, known as driving while texting, or DWT, is now illegal in most states. By now most everyone knows the research shows that DWT is very dangerous and any driver's ed course worth its salt will cover this topic in depth.
Just when everyone thought we had hands-on DWT (Driving While Texting) under control with raised awareness and traffic laws, along comes its nasty cousin, hands-free texting. Research shows that hands-free (or voice operated) texting is unsafe as well, especially when sending a message. A study by Strayer and colleagues showed that driving is impaired by hands-free texting almost to the same degree as with hands-on texting. A more recent study performed in 2010 focused on the distraction of hands-free vs. hands-on texting finding that both can result in increased risk of a crash.
As it turns out, the most demanding part of texting is not the physical keyboard, but the actual cognitive processing involved while texting. This was demonstrated in yet another study by Strayer and colleagues showing the details of why the act of texting, even hands-free texting, is a major cause of distraction.
Our goal is to make everyone aware that hands-free texting IS distracted driving and puts you at a higher risk of a crash. If you really need to text in the car, do it in the passenger's seat.