We've heard the word that hands-free setups don't make cellphone driving any safer, but this new study comparing phone use to driving under the influence seems like it's taking things a bit far. Apparently some new research, using a driving simulation device as to not expose any real drivers to the dangers of those who talk, is showing cellphone users to be as bad or worse than the average drunk driver. Forty volunteers used the simulator, taking turns trying it undistracted, with a handheld phone, with a handsfree device and while blowing a 0.08 blood-alcohol level -- the average level of impairment in the US. Three participants ended up rear-ending the car in front of them, and all three were talking on the phone, not drunk. The study noticed little difference between hands-free and handheld phone talkers, and found they were 9 percent slower to hit the breaks, and varied their speed more than normal drivers. Drunk drivers would drive slower, yet more aggressively, and all three groups were under the impression that they weren't impaired. We'd still rather have a talker behind the wheel than a drunk, especially when the blood-alcohol level shoots past 0.08 -- as it tends to do -- but we're guessing legislators will see otherwise and jump at the chance to clamp down on conversationalists.

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Cellphone talkers as bad as drunk drivers?