Voice-Activated Systems More Distracting Than Touch

Voice-activated infotainment systems are the newest trend in automobile features. These hands-free methods of communication are marketed as safer and more convenient than using handheld devices. After all, you don’t have to take your eyes off the road or your hands off the wheel. However, these error prone products require you to take your mind off driving as you concentrate on articulating your commands and fixing the inevitable mistakes, according to a study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and the University of Utah.

The voice-activated devices often misunderstand your commands, either “hearing” you wrong or responding only to an exact phrase. As a result, the device may dial a wrong number, send a garbled text or ask you time and again to repeat what you are saying. AAA Foundation-University of Utah researchers concluded that manufacturers could eventually fix these bugs to design a safer system for drivers, but for now the technology causes distractions while driving.

Which Hands-Free System Works Best?

Of the products tested in the AAA Foundation-University of Utah study, Chevrolet’s MyLink caused the greatest distraction. Mercedes’ COMMAND system, MyFord Touch and Chrysler’s UConnect distracted drivers more than carrying on a mobile phone conversation. Hyundai’s Blue Link was one of the least distracting, requiring less attention than talking with a fellow passenger. Toyota’s Entune commanded just about the same low level of concentration as listening to a book on tape, making it the least distracting of the auto devices tested.

In a second study, researchers tested attention required to use
Apple’s popular iPhone’s Siri voice system to send text messages, tweet,
post to Facebook, navigate and manage the calendar functions without
holding or looking at the mobile phone. The application was found to be
the most distracting of any electronic device system.

Putting the Distractions in Perspective

The studies rated distraction level of each device using a five-point
scale, with one equal to driving without any distractions and five
representing the concentration needed to perform complex
math-and-memorization tests. The testing showed distraction levels of:

  • 1.21 for listening to the radio
  • 1.75 for listening to a book on tape
  • 2.27 for using a hands-free cell phone
  • 2.33 for talking with a passenger
  • 2.45 for using a handheld cell phone
  • 3.06 for using a speech-to-text system

Compare these numbers to the ratings given to the systems tested:

  • 1.7 for Toyota’s Entune
  • 2.2 for Hyundai’s Blue Link Telematics System
  • 2.7 for Chrysler’s UConnect System
  • 3.0 for the Ford SYNC with MyFord Touch system
  • 3.1 for Mercedes’ COMMAND system
  • 3.7 for Chevrolet’s MyLink
  • 4.14 for Apple’s Siri, version iOS 7

Dangers of Using Electronic Devices While Driving

The AAA Foundation
estimates that distraction contributes to 16 percent of fatal traffic
accidents, killing about 5,000 people each year. Electronic devices are
the most common distraction, accounting for seven percent of driving
distractions. Teen drivers are distracted close to one-fourth of the
time they drive. Fortunately, Texas law
bans teen drivers from using hands-free and handheld devices. However,
many new and experienced drivers continue to believe they are acting
responsibly by using voice-activated systems.

Did You Sustain Injuries in a Fort Worth Distracted Driving Accident?

If you were injured by a distracted driver
in Fort Worth or Dallas, get the help you need from Bill Berenson, a
Texas Board Certified personal injury lawyer. Call our office at 817-885-8000 to schedule your free consultation today.

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