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For Immediate Release,
Kathy Lane
Communications Director
(630) 775-2307
New Study in NSC Journal Shows Hands-Free Phones No Safer Than Hand-Held Phones

*Editors’ Note: Study is available to media only through the NSC.

Itasca, IL – A new study in the National Safety Council’s Journal of Safety Research concludes there is little difference between the driving safety risk of hands-free versus hand-held cell phones. The study, by Yoko Ishigami, Dalhousie University, and Raymond Klein, confirms that any type of cell phone use detracts from the brain’s ability to focus on safe driving. Several other studies also support the claim that hands-free phones and hand-held phones are equally dangerous.

Cell phone use behind the wheel is a growing problem. According to conservative estimates, each year in the United States more than 636,000 crashes, 330,000 injuries, 12,000 serious injuries and 2,600 deaths involve distracted drivers on a cell phone. In January the National Safety Council became the first national organization to call for a total ban on cell phones.

In this study, researchers found hands-free phones and hand-held phones are equally dangerous for drivers. Results show both types of phones:

  • Contribute to more accidents and driving errors;
  • Impair reaction times;
  • Slow down overall vehicle speeds.

While vehicle speed tends to decline for drivers using any type of cell phones, those with hand-held phones generally show the most decline. The researchers suggest, “Slowing down can be a compensatory behavior to maintain safety in the face of factors challenging it. Drivers may have slowed down more when talking on a hand-held phone because they were more aware of the mental and physical load imposed on them.”

To access the study, visit Elsevier’s Science Direct at and enter the title Journal of Safety Research, Volume 40, Issue 2. To learn more about distracted driving, visit

The Journal of Safety Research is the pre-eminent, peer-reviewed scientific journal in the safety field. Its scholarly articles present basic and applied research in all areas of safety, including traffic, industry, farm, home, school and public.

The National Safety Council ( saves lives by preventing injuries and deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the roads, through leadership, research, education and advocacy.

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