California just passed a law that says drivers are free to text and email while they drive, as long as they're doing it by voice. Sounds safer, right? Not exactly, according to quite a bit of research.
Opponents of the law — specifically the National Safety Council for California — are calling for its repeal, citing years and years of evidence that says you're almost just as distracted when you use voice controls, even though your hands are free:
No surprise that drivers who texted by hand drove very poorly: they reported greater mental demand during the drive, took longer glances away from the roadway, and steered worse compared to baseline driving performance. Those who used the in-vehicle system did a little better. They didn't have much problem receiving text messages through the in-car system, but sending them posed a problem.
One study even compared your cognitive state — texting with or without hands — to that of someone who had a blood alcohol level of around 0.8, the legal limit in most states. While your mitts are free, your mind is still elsewhere. And that doesn't exactly make you a safe driver. So this kind of legislation doesn't exactly do us any favours. [The Atlantic Cities]