Your hands may be on the wheel and your eyes on the road, but where is your mind?
Sending a text or emailing while driving, even with hands-free technology, can be distracting. But new research suggests that those distractions continue even once you think you've turned your attention fully back to the road.
A study from the American Automobile Association and the University of Utah found that potentially unsafe mental distractions from the use of hands-free technology can persist up to 27 seconds after using voice commands.
Motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers killed 3,154 people in 2013 alone. Young people are most at risk, with drivers in their 20s making up 23 percent of that group.
The results varied by vehicle and information technology operating system, but the conclusion is clear: Voice-activated systems can be distracting even when you think you're finished using them.
"The results indicate motorists could miss stop signs, pedestrians and other vehicles while the mind is readjusting to the task of driving," Peter Kissinger, president and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, said in a press release.
The act of text messaging, even without using your fingers, engages areas of your brain that aren't easily shut off.