AAA sponsored research at the Univ of Utah that explored the effects of splitting one's attention between the tasks of driving and something else, like listening to the radio, chatting on a cell phone, or solving arithmetic problems while driving. Spark pointed to the research here: www.npr.org/blogs/health/2013/06/12/190949
Full paper at this link: https://www.aaafoundation.org/sites/defaul
A couple of surprises: 1) hands free devices did not reduce the cognitive load of having a conversation compared with holding the phone and talking, and 2) having a conversation with a passenger sitting next to you was similarly distracting.
A non-surprise (for me) was that using a voice activated interface to manage text and email messaging while driving was more distracting than phone calls.
The research was valuable in proposing some tools and mesasures that researchers could use to make studies comparable. Unfortunately the research did not fully capture the tasks of making and receiving calls well (it skipped the steps to initiate or answer a call), and these might be the most distracting times involved in using a phone in a car.
This research does fly in the face of most received advice, namely: using your cell phone while driving is a bad idea, but hands-free systems are better; and using a phone is more distracting than talking with a passenger.
Bottom line? Probably best to shut the phone off and listen to the radio.
Edited by: DOUGDC at: 6/15/2013 (22:25)
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