Hands-free texting still distracting for drivers
A new Triple-A study says using voice commands to send text messages and emails from behind the wheel, which is marketed as a safer alternative for drivers, actually is more distracting and dangerous than simply using a cellphone.
Automakers have been trying to excite new-car buyers, especially younger ones, with dashboard infotainment systems that let drivers use voice commands to perform things like turning on windshield wipers, posting Facebook messages or ordering pizza. The pitch has been that hands-free devices are safer because they enable drivers to keep their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road.
Researchers at the University of Utah studied adults operating a driving simulator who were trying to multi-task by using hands-free technology.
They studied their brainwaves and tracked their eye movements and found as their mental workload increased their reaction time decreased and they were more likely to miss visual cues like stop signs and pedestrians in the road.
But researchers found that hands-free phone talking isn't significantly safer than talking on a hand-held phone, and using hands-free devices that translate speech into text is the most distracting of all.