New Research on Dangers of Using Voice Apps While Driving

by ShelbyW on May 25, 2013

Approximately 6.1 billion text messages are sent each day, according to Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association statistics. At least half of all drivers have admitted to reading either texts or emails while on the road. Around 30 percent of drivers surveyed have actually admitted to typing a message, according to AAA data. These are dangerous statistics, given that over 3,000 people die as a result of vehicle crashes involving distracted driving.

Voice  Technology

To counter the dangers of texting while driving, new mobile phone voice applications and other products have been developed. For instance, Samsung’s S Voice and Apple’s Siri voice assistant are among the many options for users to speak, rather than type their texts.

Driver Reaction Times

A new study by the Texas A and M Transportation Institute has revealed that reaction times during texting are almost twice as slow as for those who are not texting, regardless of whether using their fingers or their voices. This should come as no surprise, given that using hands free devices in general have not proven to lessen vehicle accidents of those using their cell phones in any capacity.

Testing Mechanics

The Texas A and M study was the first to compare voice texting against traditional texting on handheld devices in actual driving environments. Researchers had 43 participants drive 30 mph without texting on the first round of the exercise. On the second round, each driver sent several texts using their hands. During the third and fourth rounds drivers sent several voice texts on a variety of hand held devices.

During each round, cameras were used to track each driver’s eye gaze. A GPS recorded lane change positioning. The driver response time consisted of measuring how many seconds each driver took to press response buttons after green LED lights flashed on vehicle dashboards.

Test Results

While the drivers reported that using voice to text felt safer, there was little, if any difference in their reaction times as compared to type to text. In fact, researchers were stunned to learn that slower driver response times were actually recorded than for type to text methods. This might be because drivers using voice to text software took longer to complete their texts than when typing them manually.

Distracted Driving and Texting

Essentially, driver reaction times were twice as long as when they were not texting at all, whether it was by typing or by using a voice application. Also, eye to roadway contact decreased substantially in every case of typing or voice texting. According to the website of a highly respected car accident attorney Charlotte NC firm, “Not thinking about the road while driving is called a cognitive distraction that leads to slower reaction times, shorter following distances, and inability to stay in the correct lane.”

While it may seem like using the voice to text application is less distracting than typing, people still need to use their minds to compose their thoughts. One of the biggest concerns is that drivers felt safer using voice to text applications, though their driving performance levels were affected equally. This could easily lead to a false sense of security that texting using spoken commands is safer, when in actuality, it is not.

It is estimated that at least thirty nine states have outlawed type to texting. However, hands free voice to text is still legal in every state. Therefore, the potential to either cause an accident or get involved in an accident with a driver who is texting in any way using a handheld device is just as great ever.

Researcher Shelby Warden shares this article to raise awareness of this new information. The car accident attorney Charlotte NC firm of Auger & Auger has recovered millions in damages for their clients. Their aggressive attorneys treat each client’s case with the importance and passion that it deserves.

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