AAA study shows dangers of voice-to-text function for driver

AAA study shows dangers of voice-to-text function for driver

A new study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety shows that using voice-to-text features while driving is more dangerous than previously thought. The research found that as mental workload and distractions increase, reaction time slows. Drivers scan the road less and potentially miss items right in front of them including stop signs and pedestrians. It is the most comprehensive study of its kind, and the AAA has sent a copy to all the automaker CEOs.

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

Researchers measured the levels of mental distraction drivers experienced while performing various tasks, including listening to an audio book, talking on the phone, and listening and responding to voice-activated emails. Their findings: Listening to the radio constituted minimal risk. Talking on a cell phone, whether handheld or hands-free, resulted in moderate risk. And listening and responding to in-vehicle, voice-activated email features brought extensive risk.

The AAAs recommendations:

Limit use of voice-activated technology to core activities such as climate control, windshield wipers and cruise control.

Disable certain voice-to-mail technologies such as using social media or interacting with email and text messages so they cannot be used while the vehicle is in motion.

Educate vehicle owners and mobile device users about the responsible use and safety risks for in-vehicle technologies.

Meanwhile, GM CEO Dan Akerson has vowed to integrate WiFi service into every vehicle it builds by 2015. To stay competitive, GM plans to integrate features through the motorists smartphone.

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