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Hands-free Texting and Calling Gadgets Not Risk-Free

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS 2/FOX 28)--
More and more cars are adding new technology to improve your driving experience.

The latest trend, voice command systems that let you send texts or emails behind the wheel.

Right now, about 9 million cars and trucks have the systems and experts say that number will jump to 62 million in the next five years, but they can be dangerous.

Most people today know texting and driving is dangerous, but so is that hands free gadget in your car.

"I think a lot of the studies have shown that basically you take your mind off the road, that is as dangerous as anything,” said Trooper Bob Conrad of the Iowa State Patrol.

Now, AAA says mental distractions from things like talk-to-text technologies in a car are just as deadly as texting manually.

Gadgets like GPSes are also distracting because they increase mental workload while slowing reaction time.

The study finds that as mental workload increased, the driver's field of vision narrows, increasing the possibility missing simple visual cues.

"You're thinking about something other than driving and when you start thinking about things other than driving then we have problems,” Conrad said.

The hands-free systems can be helpful, but you just have to use them properly.

"You're obviously not trying to look at the screen and try to hit little buttons to try and make sure you're spelling things right,” said Nathan Flatgard owner of Automotives Electronics

Flatgard says using a GPS is less distracting than trying to get directions from a map while driving but hands-free is not risk-free.

"If you don't make it to your destination because you've been involved in a crash having to talk to text, whatever you're doing with your phone or GPS probably isn't going to make much of a difference,” Conrad said.

 
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