North Carolina residents are becoming more aware of how risky texting and driving is. Many people still do not want to part with their handheld devices during commutes. Hands-free technology is a way to satisfy safety requirements. It still gives drivers a way to use their devices. But just how safe is it?

In the words of the National Safety Council, not very safe at all. Their slogan regarding hands-free devices is succinct: hands-free is not risk-free. Distracted driving fatalities have not changed much since the introduction of hands-free technology. Distracted driving still kills up to 9 individuals a day and injures up to 1,000 people.

Why are these levels still so high despite the control hands-free devices gives you? In essence, two other dangers still remain. First, there is no guarantee you will be able to keep your mind on driving. Driving requires full mental attention. When you have a conversation, you interfere with that attention. This goes for passengers in the vehicle and hands-free phone calls.

Second, your field of vision can suffer. Studies have shown that drivers using hand-held devices miss 50 percent of their surroundings. This is the equivalent of covering half of your windshield or half of your rear view mirror. Needless to say, drivers with such a reduced field of vision are less likely to spot danger in time to react.

Hands-free devices are trying to find a place in the modern world. Still, before relying on the safety they claim to provide, drivers should be aware of the risks still associated with their use.