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Technology doesn’t necessarily reduce driver distractions

Most Kentucky drivers understand that it is not safe to send or read messages on their phones while they are behind the wheel. According to, when someone looks away from the road and takes one or both hands off the wheel to interact with an electronic device, chances of an accident go up by as much as 23 times. Manual and visual distractions are not the only dangers, though. Someone who is not paying attention to the tasks of driving is also distracted, and the results could be just as deadly.

AAA reports that the hands-free options that smartphone and automobile manufacturers are including to prevent distracted driving do not eliminate all the risks that electronic devices pose. In fact, studies have shown that many popular voice-activated systems actually increase mental distraction to levels above merely talking on a smartphone.

Researchers were able to track brain activity through the use of an electroencephalographic cap that participants wore while driving and performing other tasks, such as listening to the radio, having a phone conversation, and listening and responding to emails using hands-free technology. Scientists also measured the amount of time it took for drivers to respond to common traffic cues, and tracked head and eye movements with cameras in the test vehicle.

When using speech-to-text functions while driving, participants in the study did not drive as well. They made significant mistakes, reacting slowly to some cues, and missing others altogether. The dangers of distraction from these activities is so high, researchers now recommend disabling this type of onboard technology.

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Shumate, Flaherty, Eubanks & Baechtold

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