Hands-Free May Not Reduce Driver Distraction

The Detroit Bureau

A study by AAA shows that hands-free systems may not be the cure-all for distracted driving issues, even while the technology becomes more prevalent.

Find out more about what AAA found and changes they suggest.

In the years ahead, drivers are going to be able to do so much while behind the wheel thanks to hands-free, voice-activated infotainment systems. Updating Facebook pages, sending texts and answering emails are just a few tasks that will be simple and easy while driving in the years to come.

However, the technology that automakers have for so long pitched as a way to avoid distracted driving issues may not be the panacea they believe, according a recent study by the American Automobile Association (AAA).

“There is a looming public safety crisis ahead with the future proliferation of these in-vehicle technologies,” said AAA President and CEO Robert L. Darbelnet.

“It’s time to consider limiting new and potentially dangerous mental distractions built into cars, particularly with the common public misperception that hands-free means risk-free.”

The study, “Measuring Cognitive Distraction in the Automobile,” rated various actions by drivers on a scale of one to three, with three being the riskiest or most dangerous. For example, listening to the radio is considered a Category One distraction.

AAA is planning to use these finding to promote potential changes, such as:

  • Limiting use of voice-activated technology to core driving-related activities such as climate control, windshield wipers and cruise control, and to ensure these applications do not lead to increased safety risk due to mental distraction while the car is moving.
  • Disabling certain functionalities of voice-to-text technologies such as using social media or interacting with e-mail and text messages so that they are inoperable while the vehicle is in motion.
  • Educating vehicle owners and mobile device users about the responsible use and safety risks for in-vehicle technologies.





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