The recent crack-down on cell phone use while driving has led many to rely upon hands-free devices to continue their conversations behind the wheel. But recent AgeLab findings indicate that, hands-free or no, any form of distraction affects the driver’s performance. According to a paper published in the January 2011 issue of Transportation research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour, there is “significant reason to discourage all individuals from engaging in phone conversations and other distracting tasks while driving.”
And if younger drivers think they are more capable of juggling technologies while driving, the study proved otherwise. Results from younger adults (19-23) and adults in their late middle ages (51-66) were compared and late middle age adults were as capable as young adults in managing a moderate amount of additional workload, though younger drivers actually showed an increase in heart rate during the task.
The full paper, entitled The impact of a naturalistic hands-free cellular phone task on heart rate and simulated driving performance in two age groups, can be found here.