Voice commands can distract drivers half a minute, says study

Man inside a car. Image source blackenterprise

Man inside a car. Image source blackenterprise

Drivers can remain distracted for up to 27 seconds after using voice commands on their phones or in-vehicle infotainment systems, research conducted for the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found.

In a study released on Wednesday, researchers tested voice-activated systems in ten 2015 model year vehicles on 257 drivers and three smartphone systems on 65 drivers. They found that each one increased mental distractions and can have residual effects for seconds after the driver has stopped talking.

Of the vehicles tested, the Chevrolet Equinox performed the best while the Mazda6 was found to be the most distracting.

“Hands-free isn’t risk-free,” Director of traffic safety advocacy and research, Jake Nelson, said, “That’s been our message for years.”

Each hands-free system was rated on a mental distraction scale between 1 and 5, with 5 being the most dangerous. AAA said Category 1 distractions are at the same level as listening to the radio, while Category 5 is equal to taking a challenging test while driving. A rating at or above Category 2, which is the equivalent of talking on the phone, is considered potentially dangerous by AAA.

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