The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers was skeptical. “We are extremely concerned that it could send a misleading message, since it suggests that hand-held and hands-free devices are equally risky,” the association said in a statement.
The automakers' trade group said the AAA study focuses only on the mental distraction and ignores the visual and manual aspects of hand-held versus hands-free systems.
About the study
University of Utah researchers who conducted the study for AAA measured the brain waves, eye movement, driving performance and other indicators of 32 university students as they drove and performed a variety of secondary tasks. Cameras tracked drivers' eye and head movements, while another device recorded drivers' reaction time to red and green lights in their field of vision. A special skull cap recorded their brain activity.
The students were tested while not driving, while driving in a simulator, and while driving through suburban Salt Lake City.