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Hands-free cell phone use unsafe

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DETROIT, Oct 18, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- Recent studies indicate hands-free cell phones are just as unsafe as driving while using a hand-held cell phone.

A study by the American Automobile Association found driving and cell-phone talking was the seventh most distracting activity for drivers whether hands on or hands off, the Detroit News reported Monday.

Preliminary research released last month indicates clear trade-offs with hands-free technology: Even though their hands remained on the wheel, study subjects using voice-activated systems take longer to dial, a potentially dangerous distraction. And some researchers say they may talk longer and become more distracted.

The study said "reaching" and "leaning" distracted 97.1 percent of drivers; manipulating audio controls distracted 91.4 percent; eating and drinking distracted 71.4 percent; and talking distracted 77.1 percent. Grooming and reading were other major distractions. Cell phone talking distracted 30 percent of drivers.

The AAA survey may affect states considering limits on cell phone use while driving. Those states include California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is conducting in-depth research at its National Advanced Driving Simulator, run jointly with the University of Iowa.

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.


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