In fact, if a hands-free device is not easy to use, a driver who uses it could be even more distracted than by simply holding the phone. Things could get worse: The next generation of communication technology -- such as wireless Internet, speech recognition systems, satelitte radio, and e-mail -- could be far more distracting for drivers, creating even greater risk on the road.
The recent controversy regarding cellular telephones and their effect on driving safety has generated public concern regarding the danger posed by these devices. Many state legislatures have responded with various proposals to restrict cell phone use while driving. But some of the laws proposed won't improve driver safety because they don't discourage hands-free phone use.
The debate surrounding new technologies in vehicles has indicated a substantial need for a better technical basis to support public policy. This, coupled with a recent surge of research in this area, motivated the special section of Human Factors (Volume 46, Number 4, Winter 2004).
The eight driver distraction special section papers show that
Overall, these results show that hands-free devices are not the solution to the problem of driver distraction. The papers also indicate new directions for enhancing driving safety.
For more information or to obtain a press copy of the Winter 2004 driver distraction special section of Human Factors, contact Lois Smith (310-394-1811, fax 310-394-2410, firstname.lastname@example.org).
Human Factors: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, published since 1958, is a peer-reviewed research journal presenting original papers of scientific merit that contribute to the understanding and advancement of the systematic consideration of people in relation to machines, systems, and environments.
The Human Factors and Ergonomics Society is a multidisciplinary professional association of more than 4400 persons in the United States and throughout the world. Its members include psychologists, engineers, designers, and scientists, all of whom have a common interest in designing systems and equipment to be safe and effective for the people who operate and maintain them.