If you are one of the many Tennessee motorists who own a smart phone, they you may have used it to talk, text, email or perform a number of other tasks while driving. Although you run the risk of getting pulled over and cited for texting and driving in the state, it is not illegal to talk on a hand-held cellphone while behind the wheel. This activity, however, is highly distractive and may lead to a catastrophic car accident. While many drivers have turned to using hands free devices to lower the risk of distraction while behind the wheel, you may have wondered whether these cellphones are really safer to use.

Researchers from the National Safety Council have found that talking on a hands free device is still a significant form of cognitive distraction. When you are engaged in a conversation while driving, your brain is unable to fully concentrate on your driving environment. Instead, your brain tends to bounce back and forth between the two tasks, leaving moments where you are not focused on driving at all. As a result, you are less likely to respond to certain hazards, including pedestrian crosswalks, traffic signals, stop signs, objects in the road, bad weather conditions and other negligent motorists.

You may be safer using a hands free cellphone than a hand-held cellular device while driving, as hand-held devices also create manual and visual distractions. However, even a hands free device does not come without certain risks. Your best bet is to avoid using a cellphone while driving altogether.

This information is only intended to educate and should not be taken as legal advice.