Is a hands-free phone safer than a handheld phone?

J Safety Res. 2009;40(2):157-64. doi: 10.1016/j.jsr.2009.02.006. Epub 2009 Apr 9.


Introduction: Although it is becoming more and more accepted that driving while talking on a cell phone can be hazardous, most jurisdictions are making handheld phone use illegal while allowing hands-free phone use.

Methods: The scientific literature exploring the effects of these two types of cell phone use on driving and driving-related performance is reviewed here.

Results: Our review shows that talking on the phone, regardless of phone type, has negative impacts on performance especially in detecting and identifying events. Performance while using a hands-free phone was rarely found to be better than when using a handheld phone. Some studies found that drivers compensate for the deleterious effects of cell phone use when using a handheld phone but neglect to do so when using a hands-free phone.

Impact on industry: Current research does not support the decision to allow hands-free phone use while driving.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic / statistics & numerical data*
  • Automobile Driving*
  • Cell Phone / instrumentation*
  • Equipment Design*
  • Humans
  • Risk Factors