What ever happened to personal responsibility? We as a society have seemingly lost touch with this important concept, and have grown to rely on government and other outside influences to dictate our appropriate behavior. At the end of the day, it is the primary responsibility of the driver to operate a motor vehicle safely and that includes knowing when and how to operate their hands-free device. Sure, there are those of us that can’t manage to chew gum and walk at the same time, so perhaps these select few should refrain from using a mobile device while driving. However, this doesn’t justify a push to ban the use of hands-free technology or a public shaming.
We all know hands-free is not risk-free. Most crashes in real life involve a unique set of circumstances, which makes precise calculations of risk factors and behaviors very difficult. Thus studies and analyses have arrived at very different conclusions when it comes to relative risk estimates for various tasks. Some studies have even concluded that in certain situations having a conversation with someone in the car is just as risky as talking on a cell phone. While AAA should be commended for their efforts to categorize and rank driving distractions, their findings still cannot provide a definitive answer as to which is riskier and deserving of censure.
All drivers have at one time or another become distracted from the task at hand. The choice to engage in these activities while operating a vehicle is usually under the driver’s control and some do it more frequently than others. Distractions whether visual, manual, or cognitive affect us all differently – especially in different age groups and experience levels. It is important to consider all these factors when discussing the overall safety concerns of driving with a hands-free device.
Good judgment would probably indicate that a Facebook status update is an unnecessary distraction. Let’s practice responsible driving behavior, and only utilize technology on the road as needed and when appropriate.