AAA Study Finds Hands-Free Technology May Increase Distraction - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

AAA Study Finds Hands-Free Technology May Increase Distraction

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WILMINGTON, Del. – Hands-free technology is not as safe to use as one may think, new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety finds.

Three out of four drivers believe it is, but AAA says some vehicles' systems increase distraction rather than diminish it.

Using a five-category rating system -- in which listening to the radio is rated as a category one distraction, talking on a handheld or hands-free cell phone is category two, and using an error-free, laboratory-built speech-to-text system to listen to and compose emails or texts is category three – AAA researchers evaluated voice-activated systems from six leading automakers.

The results were as follows:

  • Toyota's Entune system: 1.7, which is similar to listening to an audio book
  • Hyundai Blue Link: 2.2
  • Chrysler Uconnect 2.7
  • Ford SYNC: 3.0
  • Mercedes COMMAND: 3.1
  • Chevrolet MyLink: 3.7
  • Apple's Siri: 4, which is the highest level that researchers have uncovered to date

“We already know that drivers can miss stop signs, pedestrians and other cars while using voice technologies because their mind is not fully focused on the road ahead,” said Jim Lardear, the director of public and government affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “We now understand that current shortcomings in these products, intended as safety features, may unintentionally cause greater levels of cognitive distraction.”

With these results, Lardear hopes developers will improve the safety of their products by making them less complicated, more accurate and generally easier to use. In the mean time, AAA encourages drivers to minimize cognitive distraction by limiting the use of most voice-based technologies.

To view the full report, “Measuring Cognitive Distraction in the Vehicle II: Assessing In-Vehicle Voice-based Interactive Technologies,” and other materials on distracted driving, visit NewsRoom.AAA.com.

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