Study Shows That Voice-Activated Systems In Cars Distract Drivers

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In an altogether unsurprising report, researches have determined that the voice-activated technology coming stock in many new cars is not so much benefiting drivers as much as distracting them.

What doesn’t distract drivers?

Texting and driving is just a bad idea.  It’s almost akin to rolling a joint while driving as each require both delicate finger work as well as occasionally taking your eyes off the road. Trust me. I was young once and you really don’t want to do either while driving a stick with a hot cup of coffee in between your legs. These are the obvious ones. But what about if you’re falling in love, listening to the radio when a song jogs your memory, or dealing with a crying child in the back seat? Are these not each distracting individually or collectively?

The point is the world is a distraction and unfortunately driving is a necessity for most. However, just when automakers and tech companies feel that they are beginning to mitigate these distractions we’re quickly told they really aren’t by a new study.

Technology is a powerful distraction in and out of the car

A new study funded by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, a nonprofit research group, has found that while voice-activated technology in automobiles might be better than buttons on the steering wheel it remains a distraction. David Strayer, a neuroscientist at the University of Utah, headed the study and in addition to finding the technology distracting, it’s distracting for longer than you might think.

The research shows that the more complex the voice-activated system be it one from Apple, Google, Microsoft or others the longer the driver is distracted. The neuroscientist found that this can be for as long as 27 seconds after last issuing a voice command. Less complex systems can still leave the user distracted for as long as 15 seconds after use.

Strayer compares the brainpower required to use voice-activated tech to “balancing a checkbook while driving.”

Peter Kissinger, the chief executive of AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, says, “The lasting effects of mental distraction pose a hidden and pervasive danger that would likely come as a surprise to most drivers.”

Dr. Strayer added that drivers regain there attention in tiers with the first gain coming after six seconds, with less brain power expended three seconds later, with another gain of attention in another two seconds.

Additionally, the study found that drivers over 50 are most distracted after using voice-activated technology.

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About the Author

Brendan Byrne
While studying economics, Brendan found himself comfortably falling down the rabbit hole of restaurant work, ultimately opening a consulting business and working as a private wine buyer. On a whim, he moved to China, and in his first week following a triumphant pub quiz victory, he found himself bleeding on the floor based on his arrogance. The same man who put him there offered him a job lecturing for the University of Wales in various sister universities throughout the Middle Kingdom. While primarily lecturing in descriptive and comparative statistics, Brendan simultaneously earned an Msc in Banking and International Finance from the University of Wales-Bangor. He's presently doing something he hates, respecting French people. Well, two, his wife and her mother in the lovely town of Antigua, Guatemala. To contact Brendan or give him an exclusive, please contact him at theflask@gmail.com

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