Automakers have been trying their best to lessen the distraction of cell phones and text messaging behind the wheel by installing hands-free systems that will lessen it. However, a new study from AAA says those hand-free systems aren't helping.
AAA partnered with University of Utah for this very in-depth study. Researchers measured brain waves, eye movement and other metrics to assess what happens to a driver's mental workload when they attempt to perform multiple tasks at once such as listening to the radio, talking on the cell phone, or texting.
The study showed that listening to the radio was rated at lowest score of 1 on the scale. Talking on a cell phone or using the hands-free system was a 2. The highest score of 3 went to listening and replying to voice-activated email and text messaging.
“These findings reinforce previous research that hands-free is not risk-free. Increased mental workload and cognitive distractions can lead to a type of tunnel vision or inattention blindness where motorists don’t see potential hazards right in front of them,” AAA Foundation President and CEO Peter Kissinger.
With this knowledge, AAA plans to lobby automakers to limit the use of voice-activated technology to such items as the climate control. They also recommend automakers disable voice-to-text technologies while the vehicle is moving.