Unfortunately, cellphone usage while driving has become endemic in America. But this phenomenon is analogous to the question your mom probably often asked you when you were a child: Just because all your friends jump off a cliff to their deaths, would you really do it too?

Talking or texting on your cellphone can be just as dangerous as jumping off a cliff, even if you have equipped your vehicle with hands-free technology.

Distracted driving

The National Safety Council warns that even hands-free cellophone usage while behind the wheel represents a very risky behavior. Why? Because it entails all three of the following distracted driving hallmarks:

  1. Visual distraction
  2. Physical distraction
  3. Cognitive distraction

Visual distraction

Hands-free cellphone usage while driving causes your brain to lose up to one-third of its ability to see and process the moving objects around you. It likewise causes your brain to lose nearly half of its ability to see and process the various stationary objects that surround you. It goes without saying that you cannot avoid hitting the things you cannot or do not see.

Physical distraction

Admittedly, hands-free cellphone usage allows you to initiate and receive calls and texts without using your hands. But that represents only the tip of the iceberg. Like most people, you probably unconsciously “talk with your hands,” taking them off the steering wheel to gesture while making your various points.

Cognitive distraction

Despite all the hype about your ability to multitask, your brain simply cannot do it. You cannot simultaneously think about your driving and your phone conversation or text exchange.

For these and many other reasons, your best interests dictate that you never use your cellphone, even hands-free, while driving.