It’s been a little over a year now since Illinois law made it a moving violation to use an electronic device behind the wheel. The law was intended to have enforcement consequences, with a fine of &75 for a first offense and a suspended license on the third violation.

Let’s take a step back and look at why this is so important.

Hands-free doesn’t stop distraction

One respected safety advocacy group – the National Safety Council – put it this way: “hands-free is not risk-free”, which is their slogan. In other words, you cannot eliminate the risks of distracted driving just by using a headset.

This is because distracted driving breaks down into three categories. The first is physical distraction. The second is visual distraction. The third is cognitive distraction. Hands-free tech only identifies and combats the first two.

Physical distractions involve taking your hands from the wheel. You may do this when you touch your phone screen or otherwise use your device. Visual distractions take your eyes from the road. This includes distractions inside or outside of the car. Examples include crashes in other parts of the road or pets running around the back seat.

Where hands-free tech fails

Cognitive distractions are the area where hands-free tech fails. Cognitive distractions involve anything that takes your mind off of the road. There is no way to use handheld devices while keeping your full attention on your driving. Thus, there is no way for hands-free tech to overcome being a cognitive distraction. This is important to keep in mind so that drivers do not rely on hands-free tech as a miracle fix.