Are Hands-Free Systems a Hazard to Motorists?

Are Hands-Free Systems a Hazard to Motorists?

23rd Oct 2015

More and more automakers are implementing hands-free systems in their automobiles. This may include navigation, Bluetooth calling, stereo systems, and other media playback. While the use of voice-controlled systems such as these may sound like a good idea, researchers have recently issued a warning, suggesting that hands-free systems may actually distract drivers.

According to a new report published by the American Automobile Association (AAA), the most complex voice-controlled systems leave the driver distracted for roughly 27 seconds, during which he or she may drive through a red light, run a stop sign, fail to yield to traffic, or make other critical driving mistakes. That means once you stop using a voice-controlled system, you will remain distracted for roughly 27 seconds before you regain full awareness. The AAA report also found that less complex voice-controlled systems distracted drivers for approximately 15 seconds. Many people view texting as the catalyst for distracted driving, but this report suggests that voice-controlled systems may be just as bad.

As noted by the DailyMail, a motorist driving just 25 MPH can cover the length of three football fields over the course of 27 seconds. Therefore, allowing yourself to become distracted after using a voice-controlled system is a serious safety hazard.

Researcher David Strayer, who participated in the study, goes on to say that just because voice-controlled systems are available in cars doesn't necessarily mean that the driver should use them while driving.

"Just because these systems are in the car doesn't mean it's a good idea to use them while you are driving," said University of Utah psychology professor David Strayer. "They are very distracting, very error-prone and very frustrating to use. Far too many people are dying because of distraction on the roadway, and putting another source of distraction at the fingertips of drivers is not a good idea. It's better not to use them when you are driving."

Does this mean you should using the voice-controlled system in your car? While this study highlights the potential danger of using these devices, it's important to note that this is just one study. Until further research is done regarding the affects of voice-controlled systems, we really won't have a clear picture regarding their use.

This study involved 257 drivers using 2015 model cars with voice-controlled systems.

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