A study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has found voice activation technology in cars to be distracting and that it takes drivers 27 seconds to regain full alertness after making a command. For example, a car going 25 mph can travel the length of three football fields before the driver’s brain fully refocuses on driving after use of this technology. One of the researchers compared the use of these systems to balancing a checkbook while driving, something no one would do. Researcher and professor at the University of Utah, David Strayer, stated once a person shifts their attention to interacting with the device they stop scanning the road and do not anticipate hazards or things in their way.
573 adult drivers were surveyed for the study in Washington, D.C. and concluded that hands-free driving distracts one-third of drivers even with their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. Seven out of 10 surveyors believed they were only distracted for 10 seconds after using an in-vehicle device to dial a phone number or change the radio station. Meanwhile, 88% said they believe other drivers are “very distracted or somewhat distracted” while using these devices. AAA spokesman, John B. Townsend stated that everyone believes they are the exception, exaggerating our ability to handle these technologies and loathing the thought of other people using it.
The study also rated distractions caused by different model vehicles on a scale of 1 (least distracted) to 5 (most distracted). The Mazda 6 was found to have the most distracting system, rating at a 4.6, almost 1 point higher than all the other systems rated. Strayer believes distractions caused by in-vehicle devices lay within their interfaces, referring to a system that asked the driver if they wanted to make an international call after dialing a domestic number. The spokesman for Mazda released a statement on improvements made to their new system, Mazda Connect, which were revised based findings from the AAA study.
Even the least distracting systems can leave drivers distracted for 15 seconds or more. President and Chief Executive of AAA, Peter Kissinger stated the effects of distraction could “pose a hidden and pervasive danger that would likely come as a surprise to most drivers” and result in missing stop signs, other vehicles and pedestrians. Stayer concluded just because it is possible to do in the car does not mean you should.
Distracted driving is very dangerous and often results in fatal injuries. In 2014, 3,179 people were killed, and 431,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. If you or a loved one has been injured in a motor vehicle accident, contact the experienced personal injury lawyers at the Law Offices of Thomas L. Gallivan, PLLC today.