The new law, which generally bars drivers from talking on their phones unless they use a hands-free device, takes effect today, nearly two years after the Legislature passed it. In the weeks leading up to the deadline, customers have been flooding into stores to buy hands-free devices, particularly wireless headsets.
With recent news that it is now illegal in California to use your mobile phone while driving (unless you have a hands-free device), I thought it would be interesting to note that it is not the “holding the phone” that is the problem, it is the cognitive requirements of multi-tasking (driving and talking) that is the problem. Hands-free will not solve this problem. As Strayer, Drews, and Crouch (2006) noted:
When drivers were conversing on either a handheld or hands-free cell phone, their braking reactions were delayed and they were involved in more traffic accidents than when they were not conversing on a cell phone.
Strayer, D. L., Drews, F. A., & Crouch, D. J. (2006). A comparison of the cell phone driver and the drunk driver. Human Factors, 48, 381-391.