MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A new study from AAA is raising concerns about the modern technology in our cars.
The research examined the level of distraction drivers face using hands-free or voice command features.
If you’ve ever been frustrated when the voice-activated system in your car can’t understand you, that’s not your biggest problem.
The study documents how distracted drivers can get using voice commands, especially when the system gets the commands wrong.
Researchers questioned if the very latest hands-free, voice-only command systems caused drivers to get distracted.
And the answer is, yes.
One driver in a simulator became so distracted while voice-messaging a Facebook update, she rear-ended the car in front of her.
However, the biggest problem was not the driver. The study concludes that errors made by the voice systems cause the greatest distractions.
In one case, the driver asked Apple’s Siri to call a restaurant.
“Café Triol,” said the driver.
“Sorry, I didn’t get that,” said Siri. “Please select a restaurant.”
In the driver’s frustration she missed a prompt that was measuring her attention to the road.
The study’s author, David Strayer, said it can be distracting to talk to your automobile about a phone call.
“In the situations where you have a system that’s very difficult to use, is extremely frustrating to use, then, yes, you’ll be paying attention to that and not paying attention to traffic lights and pedestrians and other cars,” said Strayer.
The study also ranked the leading car voice systems by levels of mistakes and distractions.
On a chart where 5 is the most distracting, a Chevrolet with GM’s MyLink system rated worst at 3.7, while Toyota’s Entune system rated best at 1.7.
GM said in a statement, it is committed to hands-free systems and to improving “our in-vehicle systems and verbal interfaces on behalf of our customers.”
This study does not link any of these hands-free systems to an increase in car accidents — the science is not there yet.
But it does say very simply, the more we have e focus on talking to the car, the less we’re focused on the road.
Apple’s iPhone was the only phone tested. Researchers found Siri performed even worse than the car makers’ infotainment systems. Apple and Google are both working with auto companies to incorporate their phones into infotainment systems.
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