A new report says using a hands-free phone behind the wheel is as distracting as using a hand-held phone.
Consumer magazine trialled a wired earpiece, Bluetooth headsets, Bluetooth speakerphones and a phone cradle to determine the best way to make and receive phone calls while driving.
The test showed that holding a conversation on any of the hands-free kits was distracting - especially when dialing a number while driving.
"It took our attention away from navigating intersections, parking, changing lanes - not to mention cyclists, pedestrians, and other cars doing strange things," New Zealand Herald quoted the magazine as stating.
"Using a hands-free phone wasn't any different from using a hand-held one."
The magazine stated that the wired earpiece was the easiest to use, but voices sounded muffled, while the Bluetooth headsets didn't feel stable against the ear and voices sounded muffled, crackly and faint.
Bluetooth speakerphones didn't respond very well to New Zealand accents when attempting to voice-dial, and had distorted sound.
Trying to dial on the phone while in the cradle was distracting, and mistakes were made while dialing.
The magazine suggested that it was sensible to stop before making a call - even with voice-recognition dialing and a hands-free phone.