Voice-activated systems are a dangerous form of driver distraction

A recent study found that the voice-activated systems included in vehicles may be more distracting than using a handheld cellphone.

Distracted driving is a serious issue in Washington and throughout the rest of the country. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, car accidents involving driver distraction kill nine people and injure 1,060 every day. Although voice-activated technology is believed to prevent driver distraction, a new study suggests that these applications can be more distracting than using a handheld device.

Voice activated systems do not solve the distracted driving problem

Although previous research discovered that drivers who use voice-activated technology are more likely to miss stop signs and pedestrians as they travel down the road, this study, which was conducted by AAA and the University of Utah, found that shortcomings, intended as safety features, in voice-controlled applications cause significant levels of cognitive distraction among drivers. To come to this conclusion, the researchers used test vehicles, heart rate monitors and other specialized equipment.

Each voice-activated system was rated on a five-point scale, with five representing the greatest level of distraction. For example, Chevrolet's MyLink system received a score of 3.7 on this particular scale. This score was approximately 1.25 points higher than the distraction rating for a handheld cellphone.

Even though this study found that handheld devices may be safer than voice-activated systems, the study does not recommend that drivers use either form of technology as they operate a vehicle. According to the study's leader, who is a psychology professor at the University of Utah, a driver's primary focus should always be on driving.

The three types of driver distraction

As opposed to other studies, this research merely measured cognitive distraction, which is one of the three types of driver distraction. The CDC states that including cognitive distraction, the three forms of driver distraction include the following:

  • Manual-This type of distraction occurs when a driver takes their hands away from the steering wheel. For example, a driver becomes manually distracted when they use their hands to search for something on the backseat of their vehicle.
  • Visual-A driver who takes their eyes off of the road becomes visually distracted. For example, a driver who chooses to look at their GPS system for directions is visually distracted.
  • Cognitive-This type of distraction refers to when a driver takes their mind off of driving. For instance, a driver who uses a voice-activated application is cognitively distracted.

Those who become manually, visually or cognitively distracted as they drive put their life and the lives of others on the road with them at risk. If you were injured in an accident caused by a distracted driver, consult with an attorney who can ensure your right to proper compensation is protected.

Keywords: distracted driving, car accidents