Don't Talk on the Phone While Driving

New research shows even hands-free kits can be a dangerous distraction.

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So, you think that because your state bans the use of hand-held cellphones while driving that it's safe to chat away on a hands-free version. Not so fast. Studies show it's still a hazardous highway distraction. In fact, one study says it's as risky as driving drunk.

Most drivers think that hands-free phones are safer, according to a survey by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. But studies in 2003 and 2005 found that the impact of using a hands-free phone on driving performance didn't differ from that of a hand-held phone. As the AAA says, "It's the conversation that distracts the driver—not the device."

Granted, cellphones aren't the only diversions tempting drivers. Reading or applying makeup can be even more perilous, for example. Still, the researchers believe the danger from cellphones is greater because drivers dial and chat so frequently on them.