Study finds hands-free technology just as distracting

Using hands-free technology with mobile phones or voice to text communication causes inattention in drivers, according to a new report released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety in the US. The study team developed sensors covering the experimental subjects heads to measure brain activity and attention to the job at hand, namely driving the vehicle.

During this study the experimental subjects were given eight tasks to perform whilst the monitoring equipment was attached to their head and they were being filmed. They had to perform the tasks on their own to begin with. Secondly, they performed the same tasks in a driving simulator and thirdly they went through the same set of tasks again while driving a vehicle through a city.

The study found there are significant impairments to driving which come from the diversion of attention from the task of operating the vehicle and these impairments are related to the cognitive workload of other in-vehicle activities. When compared to other activities included in the study like listening to the radio or talking with passengers, the study found interacting with a speech to text  system was the most cognitively distracting.

In its conclusion the study suggests any adoption of voice-based systems in vehicles may cause unintended consequences which would adversely affect traffic safety.

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