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