Drivers beware voice-activated technology

It's against the law to text and drive in Ohio. It's also illegal for drivers under the age of 18 to talk on a cellphone while driving. Ohio's restrictions on cellphone use while driving were enacted in response to a growing number of serious and fatal car accidents caused by distracted drivers. While no states have enacted bans on all cellphone usage by drivers, a total of 11 have passed laws banning drivers from using hand-held mobile devices.

In response to growing public and political concern, many cellphone companies and motor vehicle manufacturers have taken steps to develop and expand the use of voice-activated technology. Previously heralded as a safer and less distracting method for drivers to communicate and interact with electronic devices, a new study shows that voice-activated devices are amongst the most distracting and dangerous.

The study, which was conducted by the American Automobile Association, examined how drivers performed while engaging with a number of distracting devices while driving. Each distracting device was assigned a number from one to three based upon how dangerous and distracting it was deemed.

The results of the study showed that drivers were most distracted when listening and responding to voice-activated devices. In fact, cellphone usage by drivers scored a two out of three while interacting with a voice-activation device scored a three or the highest and most distracting.

Researchers at AAA who conducted the study hope the results will be helpful in convincing both cellphone and motor vehicle manufacturers of potential dangers associated with voice-activation technology. Each year, thousands of drivers and passengers are involved and killed in car accidents caused by distracted drivers. It's important, therefore, that serious steps be taken to reduce the use of technologies that prove to be distracting to drivers.

Source: WFMJ, "AAA released study, hands-free technology proves equally distracting," Chelsea Telega, June 12, 2013

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