This Information Report contains a definition of road vehicle hands-free operation. This definition applies to driver inputs to a wireless communications device used for person-to-person wireless communications while driving. This report applies to both original equipment manufacturers’ and aftermarket devices. The definition does not apply to outputs, e.g., visual or haptic feedback, from a communication system or device, regardless of the modality of human-machine interface. It also does not apply to parallel or redundant manual control operating modes.
The purpose of this information report is to provide a comprehensive definition of hands-free, applied solely to the conversational portion of person-to-person wireless communications systems or devices for application in road vehicles.
Note: The limitation of the present definition to "person-to-person" wireless communications reflects awareness that future Intelligent Transportation System applications described in the literature will entail certain applications, such as those involving electronic payment for tolls or parking, for example, that require additional manual operations on the part of drivers to, for example, select a particular credit/debit card and then confirm/agree to the payment. Such applications do not involve person-to-person wireless communications, and thus require special considerations that are not within the scope of this document.
According to Dictionary.com, "hands-free" means "not requiring the hands for operation, esp. a telephone." In a sampling of state laws in the U.S. pertaining to cellular telephone usage while driving, use of the term hands-free is restricted solely to the function of engaging in conversation (i.e., speaking and listening) while using cellular telephone without the use of either hand. Actions related to the use of a cellular telephone or other portable device while driving include locating the device, picking it up, locating a hands-free accessory, placing it on the head or in the ear, looking up a cellular telephone number, dialing a cellular telephone number, answering a cellular telephone, texting, etc.
The intent of this document is to define hands-free including all actions necessary to accomplish wireless communications while driving. Limiting the scope of this definition to person-to-person wireless communications focuses on the mitigation of driver distraction. Such systems and devices have been in common use for more than 10 years and are widely used by drivers, and thus there exists sufficient research data to support the development of policies and programs aimed at mitigating negative effects on driving safety. This limitation is also intended to avoid inhibiting future innovation in interface designs for new and evolving telematics features and functions.
This document is intended to be technology-neutral and, as such, does not address what technology is used to accomplish a hands-free state. As noted above in regard to payment applications, there may be current or future systems, devices, or interfaces that are not hands-free according to this definition and that nevertheless meet industry, government, and legal standards and guidelines for safe use while driving. This definition is therefore not an adequate basis for determining which device or function uses avoid increased risk while driving.