It’s commonly believed that hands-free accessories are a safe way to use cellphones while driving. However, more than 30 studies show that they are actually no safer than handheld devices.
Though hands-free devices are marketed as a way to keep a driver’s hands on the wheel, they present other dangers. For example, many of these devices require a driver to take his or her eyes off of the road—such as to navigate through an infotainment system or to ensure the accuracy of a voice-to-text system. In fact, new studies from the National Safety Council (NSC) show that drivers are more distracted by voice-to-text systems than typing a text message by hand.
Another study, released by the American Automobile Association (AAA), found that even when a driver’s eyes are on the road, the distractions from a hands-free device cause significant impairments. These include, but are not limited to, decreased awareness of surrounding traffic, a sense of tunnel vision and increased reaction time.
It’s always safest to drive with your mind clear of distractions, eyes focused on what’s in front of you and both hands on the wheel.
Every day, about 90 drivers are killed in motor vehicle accidents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. And, with inclement winter weather making driving conditions more hazardous, that number could worsen. For that reason, be sure to follow these six tips whenever you drive this winter:
- Have your vehicle serviced: The cold can have an adverse effect on your vehicle. Before the temperature drops, take your vehicle to an auto repair shop to have the battery, tire treads, coolant hoses and wiper blades inspected.
- Assemble a winter emergency kit: In case you get stranded on the side of the road, you will want to have an emergency kit on hand. Your kit should include the following:
- An electric flashlight, spare batteries and flares
- Hand warmers and a thick, heavy blanket (ideally wool)
- A shovel and ice scraper
- Jumper cables
- Plan ahead: Before you get behind the wheel, check the weather forecast. If possible, prepare an alternate route in case of inclement weather or poor road conditions.
- Know your vehicle: Each vehicle handles winter weather conditions differently. Consequently, you should be aware of your vehicle’s capabilities—such as its ability to stop as well as how it handles driving on snow, ice or wet roadways.
- Tidy up: Before you get behind the wheel, be sure to clean off any snow or ice that may have accumulated on your vehicle—especially on the headlights and taillights as well as the side mirrors.
- Drive smart: Driving in winter weather requires you to adjust certain rules of the road. Some tips to keep in mind:
- Speed limits are for dry, clear driving conditions. So, it is okay to drive slower than the posted limit.
- With suspect road conditions, it is advisable to at least double the standard following distance.
- To help ensure that other motorists are able to see your vehicle, keep your headlights turned on—even during the day.
By following these tips, you should be prepared for driving in any winter weather conditions.