AAA finds that voice controls don't solve driver distractions

Many people believe voice-control systems are a safer option for dialing a cell phone, texting, changing the radio station and performing many other tasks behind the wheel of a car. However, these hands-free technologies may not be as safe as they seem.

According to a recent report from AAA, a large number of the hands-free voice controls marketed in vehicles as “safety features” are not proving effective. In fact, the complexity of these systems might actually increase cognitive distraction rather than reduce it.

Distracted driving has become one of the most common causes of vehicle-related accidents. When an individual becomes distracted while driving, even for a few seconds, innocent lives are at risk.

It only takes a brief moment to glance at a text message, remove your hands from the wheel to adjust the radio or to drive while lost in thought. These moments of distraction can make it impossible to react quickly enough to avoid causing a collision that leads to serious injury or death.

Voice and Hands-Free Technology: The Fatal Flaw

Voice controls and hands-free technology have been touted as a solution to distracted driving. However, some believe these technological “advances”pose problems.

Many of these systems allow drivers to read, compose and send messages,and update social media accounts, without having to take their eyes off the road.However, visual distractions are not necessarily the danger.

A chart from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety shows that a driver’s mental distraction level can be dramatically affected when he or she uses hands-free voice commands while driving.

Some of the actions that create these dangers include:

  • Adjusting the radio or in-vehicle temperature still posed a low distraction, even when done through the use of voice commands.
  • Listening to messages via voice technology ranked as a medium-level distraction.
  • Using voice commands to navigate through simple menus also posed a medium-level distraction to drivers, almost bordering on a high-level distraction.
  • Listening to and composing messages caused a high level of distraction for drivers who attempted to do so through voice technology.
  • Navigating complex menus via voice commands proved to be one of the highest levels of driver distractions, second only to using Apple’s Siri.

While the intention to lessen distraction may be a good one, these types of devices as currently designed may pose mental distractions as dangerous as the physical ones, AAA found.

Even drivers who are looking at the road may not actually see what is in front of them. Drivers who are unable to keep their eyes on the road, hands on the wheel and mind on the task of driving are at far higher risk for causing serious, if not deadly, car accidents.

Eliminate Driver Distraction from Voice-Control Technology

AAA is asking developers to address issues pertaining to “complexity, accuracy and time on task with the goal of making systems that are no more demanding than listening to the radio.”Steps drivers themselves can take to help eliminate distractions include:

  • Turn off your cell phone when driving.
  • If you are using a GPS system to get to your intended destination, program it ahead of time.
  • Take the time to learn about how your vehicle’s voice technology works

The best way to keep safe behind the wheel is the old-fashioned method – stay focused on driving safely and ignore anything that distracts you from that task.

Contact Our Colorado Car Accident Law Firm

Attorney Steve Ray is a former Marine Corps judge now fights for the rights of accident victims in Fort Collins and Northern Colorado. If you have been seriously injured in a car accident resulting from a distracted driver, he brings more than 35 years of legal experience and military discipline to pursuing your claim for compensation.

He will meet with you to discuss your case and, if a claim is possible, pursue the maximum financial recovery available. If we cannot recover money for you, you will pay nothing for our legal services.

Contact us today to discuss your case in a free consultation.