(CBS) — A new study suggests using hands-free devices is no solution to the dangers of distracted driving, and could be worse than using hand-held devices.

WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports the new study – the most comprehensive of its kind – has found using hands-free and voice-activated devices while driving actually is more dangerous than talking on a hand-held cell phone.

University of Utah psychology professor David Strayer did the research for the AAA.

“Mental distractions – from talking on a phone, or interacting with voice-based systems in the car – has a significant cognitive component to it that makes it so that you’re less safe,” he said.

The study of drivers using voice-controlled devices found reaction times slowed, and drivers missed visual clues right in front of them; such as stop signs and pedestrians.

AAA spokeswoman Yolanda Cade said, with the car industry planning more hands-free and voice-activated technology in the future, “We believe there is a public safety crisis looming.

Approximately 9 million vehicles on the road have some form of hands-free or voice-activated dashboard infotainment systems. That number is expected to jump to 62 million by 2018.

The AAA was hoping the new research would change public perception that hands-free devices are safe to use while driving.

However, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers expressed fears the study was misleading, saying it focused only on mental distractions from using a device, and not the visual and manual differences between hand-held and hands-free devices.

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