Hands-Free – Not Distraction Free

Hands-Free Systems Distract Drivers

Study Find Hands-Free Systems Distract Drivers

Perhaps you've been in this situation before, arguing with the invisible techno-brain that lives inside your car or phone. Frustrated, you begin hitting buttons on the screen, still shouting commands into the emptiness of your car.

All the while, traffic has stopped moving, but you haven't.

Researchers for AAA recently released a study that points to modern hands-free calling technology as being the culprit for distracted driving.

The study placed drivers in simulated situations where hands-free calling systems were used. These voice-only commands were implemented to help keep drivers free from distractions. However, it seems they had the opposite effect.

Simulation Results of Hands-Free Systems

In one simulation, a driver rear-ended the car in front of her, because she was arguing with the voice-messaging system about her Facebook update. In another instance, the phone's artificial intelligence was unable to locate a restaurant, causing her frustrated driver to miss an on-screen prompt that measured her attention.

Furthermore, the study ranked the distraction levels of current in-vehicle systems on a scale of 1 through 5. GM's MyLink system was the worst (3.7), while Toyota's Entune system was ranked best (1.7).

David Strayer, author of the study and professor at the University of Utah, said, "In the situations where you have a system that's very difficult to use, is extremely frustrating to use, then, yes, you'll be paying attention to that and not paying attention to traffic lights and pedestrians and other cars."

Stay Focused on the Road

Coupling driving with any other activity is bound to create a distraction. The study concludes that the more you focus on handling the ever-increasing technology in your car, the less time you're watching the road.

Our law firm recommends pulling over to a safe place if you need to make a call, send a text message, or check your navigation system. Those few minutes could be difference between arriving safely and getting into a serious car accident.

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