The NTSB explains that a dangerous level of distraction still exists even when using hands-free devices, and this is why banning electronics entirely is the only way to go.
“Hands-free is not risk free. Using a device hands-free does not reduce driver distraction; in fact, drivers are still distracted by the conversation-this is called ‘cognitive distraction.’ Many drivers believe they can multitask and still operate a vehicle safely. But multitasking is a myth. Humans can only focus cognitive attention on one task at a time,” the NTSB explains.
While it acknowledges that some states have taken a series of measures supposed to curb the use of electronics behind the wheel, none have followed its recommendation to ban them for drivers completely, even in hands-free modes.
“States are making some progress addressing this public health problem, but no state has implemented our recommendation calling for a ban on the use of all personal electronic devices while driving except in case of emergency,” it says.
Research conducted last year indicated that both Android Auto and CarPlay, which themselves come with voice assistants allowing for hands-free interaction, still cause driver distraction behind the wheel. That's because many drivers focus on controlling certain features like navigation and music playback.
A separate study whose findings were published in September revealed that infotainment systems as a whole also represent a source of distraction for drivers. More specifically, 49 percent of the respondents claim they lose their focus and sometimes take their eyes off the road when interacting with navigation or receiving traffic alerts from the systems available in the car.