Vehicle manufacturers have been enticing us with new cars that will make us safer because we’ll be able to keep both hands on the wheel. To date, more than 9 million vehicles on the road are equipped with what are commonly called “infotainment systems.” These allow drivers to make or receive phone calls, listen to or type and send a text, control the radio or mp3 player and temperature controls, and a number of other features, all with their voice. That number is expected to rise to at least 62 million vehicles by 2018.
Unfortunately, a new study commissioned by AAA and released this week suggests that such voice-command consoles may actually be more distracting than talking on a cell phone. The study found that the voice controls may actually be more distracting than most other activities inside the car, because they required greater concentration from the driver.
According to researchers, the more concentration was required to complete a task, the more likely drivers were to focus on that one activity to the exclusion of all others, including scanning the road, or checking the mirrors. They tended to look straight ahead, without actually seeing anything in front of them, including pedestrians, red lights and stop signs.
While researchers believe there is no significant advantage to these systems, however, drivers themselves think they’re safer. AAA officials hope that they can change misconceptions about these devices, and prevent a possible bloodbath on the roads. They recently briefed auto manufacturers, officials from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and safety advocates like the National Safety Council (NSC) that voice-driven technologies should be limited to “core driving tasks.”
For its part, the NSC responded to the AAA study by calling on regulators and manufacturers to limit the use of built in communication and entertainment technologies that reduce the driver’s focus on driving.
Distracted driving is a major problem in the United States; more so than in most European countries, and one reason is that 31% of U.S. drivers are prone to talking and texting while operating their car. If voice operated controls aren’t the answer to the problem, perhaps something more dramatic should be considered, such as blocking technology that renders most electronics inoperable while the vehicle is running.
This recent study shows that hands free distracted driving, is still dangerous distracted driving. If you or someone you care about has been injured or killed in a vehicle accident, and you suspect the cause of the accident was a distracted driver, contact the Texas Distracted Driving Accident Lawyer at Hill Law Firm today.