Study Shows Hands-Free Devices Can Still District Drivers

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A new study released by AAA shows that a number of activities drivers engage in behind the wheel can dangerously impact their ability to drive safely. Tasks such as listening to an audio book to responding to voice-activated emails all showed that you aren’t necessarily safer if your eyes are on the road and your hands are on the wheel if your mind is elsewhere.

Key points of the study include:

  • Using a five category rating system, analogous  to that used for hurricanes, researchers were able to rank the different levels of distractions that various activities can cause in a driver’s brain.
  • Research findings show that reaction times are slowed, brain function is compromised and motorists often miss potential environmental cues such as stop signs, pedestrians or other cars while engaged in mentally distracting tasks—even if the task doesn’t involve the driver looking away from the road or taking hands off the wheel.
  • This study offers evidence that drivers are not necessarily safer just because their eyes are on the road and their hands are on the wheel. The use of hands-free technologies in the car is not risk-free.
  • This research demonstrates that the use of speech-to-text technologies, such as features allowing drivers to respond to text messages or emails, results in a high-level of mental distraction. Comparatively, conversing on the phone results in a moderate – but still significant – level of mental distraction, while listening to the radio or an audio book is less distracting.

Information provided by AAA

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