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Growing Hands-Free Options Concern Safety Experts

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BOSTON (CBS) – Automakers are using new technology to make it easier for people to stay connected behind the wheel, without breaking the law.

Nearly every automaker now offers some kind of hands-free option. Vehicles come with voice-activated phone, radio and GPS systems. Now some makers are even marketing voice-to-text systems that will allow you to update your Facebook status.

However, the National Transportation Safety Board is concerned about this new trend, particularly since some studies show even hands-free phones can cause a driver to become distracted.

WBZ-TV’s Paula Ebben reports.

“When you are on the road your primary responsibility is to make sure you get to your destination safely. It’s not to conduct business, not to socialize. It’s to protect the people in your vehicle and all of those around you.” said Debbie Hersman of the NTSB.

Consultant Tom Osler is always on the road and he relies on the hands-free option built into his car to stay connected and productive.

“Hands-free technology is essential to my business and my safety,” he said.

“Before I had the voice activation and voice command prompts, I used to fumble around with the cell phone and dig through and look down and around,” he said.

Hands-free may appear to be safer, but the jury is still out. Several states that require drivers to use hands-free devices while driving have not seen a decline in traffic accidents.

The NTSB argues the best way to ensure safety is to turn off the phone all together.

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