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Are hands-free phones as risky as handheld ones while driving?

Many newer vehicles have hands-free technology built into their consoles. Even when they don't, there are plenty of ways to rig your phone so that you can comply with Georgia's law that prohibits holding your phone while driving.

People often assume that using hands-free technology to talk on the phone while driving is safe. However, studies have shown that even if your hands are on the steering wheel and your eyes are on the road, if your mind is on your phone call, you're engaging in dangerous distracted driving.

One psychologist who researched distracted driving says that studies that have compared drivers' level of focus when using handheld and hands-free phones show that there "really isn't a safety advantage to one over the other."

The distraction can continue after the phone call has ended. The psychologist's research indicated there is a "technology hangover." After ending a phone call, he found "it takes up to 27 seconds to regain what you lost while interacting with the technology."

There are ways to prevent your hands-free phone from being a constant source of distraction. One is to turn off your notifications while you're driving. It's only natural to be curious when we know there's a text message, email or Facebook notification waiting for us. It's better to remove the temptation to look at it. Some phones have a function that turns off notifications and also give those trying to contact you a way to do so if it's an emergency.

Even if you minimize use of your phone and other hands-free technologies while driving, you have no control over what drivers in other vehicles do. If you're injured in an accident caused by another driver, one of the things that can be determined is whether that person was using any hands-free or handheld technology just before or at the time of the crash. This may help you seek the compensation you need and deserve.

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