Using Hands-Free Technology While Driving is surprisingly risky according to AAA Research. Mental distractions can persist for as long as 27 seconds after dialing, changing music or sending a text using voice commands, according to new research on distracted driving.
Drivers using phones and vehicle information systems while driving may miss stop signs, pedestrians and other vehicles while their minds are readjusting to the task of driving, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, which says its research raises “new and unexpected concerns” regarding mental distractions. “The lasting effects of mental distraction pose a hidden and pervasive danger that would likely come as a surprise to most drivers,” said Peter Kissinger, president and CEO of the safety group.
Researchers found that potentially unsafe levels of cognitive distraction can last for as long as 27 seconds after completing a distracting task in the worst-performing systems studied. At the 25 m.p.h. speed limit in the study, drivers traveled the length of nearly three football fields during this time. When using the least distracting systems, drivers remained impaired for more than 15 seconds after completing a task. The research indicates that the use of voice-activated systems can be a distraction even at seemingly safe moments when there is a lull in traffic or the car is stopped at an intersection.
Researchers discovered the residual effects of mental distraction while comparing new hands-free technologies in ten 2015 vehicles and three types of smart phones (Google Now, Apple Siri and Microsoft Cortana). The analysis found that all systems studied increased mental distraction to potentially unsafe levels. The systems that performed best generally had fewer errors, required less time on task and were relatively easy to use.
The massive increase in voice-activated technologies in cars and phones represents a growing safety problem for drivers. There is a concern that these new systems may invite driver distraction, even as overwhelming scientific evidence concludes that hands-free is not risk free.