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Hands-Free Voice Controls Increase Driver Distraction


A new study by AAA found voice-activated infotainment systems can pose more of a risk than talking on a cell phone while driving.  Researchers at the University of Utah conducted a test with 40 driver’s ages 18-40 in nine different scenarios with a voice-control system created just for the study.  The hands-free version they created mimicked Apple’s Siri Eyes free and a typical factory setup.  The researchers also added random, frustrating errors and measured the driver’s heart rates, brain activity and reaction times.

The results of the study concluded that driver’s get more stressed dictating commands or messages than listening to them.  Our mental capacity behind the wheel shrinks when a voice system messes up, offers too many choices or takes too long to process.  Dictated texts can’t be edited causing drivers to get frustrated when they have to start all over again.  Siri was the most complex and least intuitive system. Siri’s sarcasm and wit was not appreciated by the test drivers.  When the brain is not fully focused on the road it causes drivers to miss stop signs, pedestrians and other cars while using voice technologies.  The intent of these technologies is to be safety features but they are unintentionally causing greater levels of cognitive distraction.

On a scale of 1-10, AAA compared voice technology systems made by different manufacturers, which were included in the vehicle. Below is a list of some of the results (1 least distracting, 10 most distracting).

Toyota Entune 1.7

Hyundai BlueLink 2.2

Chrysler Uconnect 2.7

Ford MyFord Touch 3.0

Mercedes-Benx COMAND 3.1

Chevrolet MyLink 3.7

Siri Eyes Free 4.2

Always be careful on the road and make sure to avoid distractions to prevent accidents and call a Portland accident attorney if you find yourself in one.