A recently published study looked at performance in a driving simulator of individuals who had blood alcohols of 0.08 (the “legal limit” for intoxication) and those same individuals sober and using a cell phone. They also served as the “control” group driving without alcohol or distraction. Cell phones users, both “hands-free” and hand-held, had poor reactions times and other driving “problems” as frequently, and in 3 instances worse problems, than when they were drunk. In both situations (distracted and drunk) the drivers did not believe that they were affected.
We have seen this in cases through our office. Checking cell phone records and comparing them to the time of the accident, we have seen deaths related to cell phone use and we only see the worst of the crashes. One case sticks in my mind. A young guy went off the road, single car fatal accident, moments after his cell phone received a call and he presumably answered it.
Keep in mind that the distraction “problem” was equal for hands-free and hand-held cell phone use. On the other hand, don’t get me started on some of the other things I see drivers doing while they are driving.
Make good choices, don’t take chances, good luck.