Distracted driving is a serious safety concern on our roads today. In the United States alone, there were more than 3,000 deaths in 2020 attributed to distracted driving. In fact, it has become such a problem that many states have passed laws banning the use of handheld devices while driving. Despite these efforts, people are still finding ways to text and drive. One of the newest methods is using voice-activated technology built into some newer vehicles. The idea is that by dictating a text it becomes a safer activity.
What is Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving is any activity that takes a driver’s attention away from the road. This can include activities like talking on the phone, texting, eating, drinking and talking to passengers. There are three main types of distracted driving: visual, manual, and cognitive. Visual distractions involve not looking at the road ahead. Examples include looking at a GPS device, reading a map or checking on a child in the backseat.
Manual distractions involve removing your hands from the steering wheel. Examples include fumbling with a phone, adjusting the radio or eating while driving. Cognitive distractions involve thinking of other things rather than driving. This can happen when you’re thinking about something else, daydreaming or talking to passengers. It can also happen when you’re using voice-activated technology, like a GPS system or a hands-free phone.
Voice Command Technology isn’t Particularly Safer
A recent study conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) found that voice-activated technologies are not necessarily any safer than other forms of distracted driving. The study, which was published in the journal Nature Human Behavior, looked at how different types of distractions affect a driver’s performance.
All Distractions Impair Safety in a Vehicle
The researchers found that all forms of distraction can significantly impair a driver’s ability to operate a vehicle safely. This is especially true for activities that require a lot of mental focus such as composing an email or text message. It can be hard to resist the urge to check our phones while we’re behind the wheel, but it’s important to remember that even a split-second distraction can have disastrous consequences.
Just Talking is a Distraction
Interestingly, the study also found that hands-free devices are not necessarily any safer than hand-held ones.
This is because the act of talking itself can be a distraction, even if your hands are free to operate the vehicle. The study’s lead author, Bryan Reimer, said that the findings suggest that we need to be careful about how we use voice-activated technologies while driving.
“Voice is not a panacea,” he said. “It’s not going to magically make the problem of distracted driving go away,” Reimer added that the best way to avoid distracted driving is to simply put your phone away and out of reach while you’re behind the wheel. If you must use it, pull over to a safe location first. The findings of this study have important implications for public policy and safety measures related to distracted driving. They suggest that we need to be careful about how we use and promote voice-activated technologies in vehicles. We also need to be clear about the limitations of these technologies and how they can impact a driver’s safety.
The Dangers of Distracted Driving
As the MIT study shows, all forms of distracted driving can be dangerous. But some activities are more dangerous than others. Texting while driving is particularly dangerous because it requires a driver to take their eyes off the road, hands off the wheel and mind off the task of driving. This type of multitasking is known as cognitively demanding task switching, and it can have a significant impact on a driver’s performance. In fact, research has shown that texting while driving is more dangerous than drunk driving.
Activities Other Than Concentrating on Driving Put You at Risk
When you’re behind the wheel, it’s important to give your full attention to the task of driving. That means putting away your phone and any other distractions. And if you’re ever feeling tired or distracted while driving, be sure to take a break. It’s not worth putting your life or the lives of others at risk.
MTI Research on the Matter
This research is essential because it provides insights into how we can use and promote these technologies in a way that minimizes the risks of distracted driving.
It also highlights the need for more public education on the dangers of distracted driving and the limitations of voice-activated technologies. The current study focused on cognitive distractions.
The researchers conducted two experiments to see how voice-activated technologies impact a driver’s performance. In the first experiment, 48 participants were asked to drive in a simulator while completing various tasks. These tasks included talking on a hands-free phone, listening to a book on tape and dictating an email. The researchers found that all three tasks were distracting and caused the participants to drive more slowly and make more mistakes.
In the second experiment, the researchers asked 24 participants to complete the same tasks while driving in a real car on a busy highway. The findings were similar to the first experiment, with all three tasks causing the participants to drive more slowly and make more mistakes. The researchers concluded that voice-activated technologies are distracting and dangerous, mainly when they’re used for tasks that require much cognitive focus. For more information on distracted driving, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website: www.distraction.gov.
Implications for Public Policy and Safety Measures
The findings of the MIT study suggest that we need to be careful about how we use voice-activated technologies while driving. This means that we should be aware of the potential distractions that these technologies can create. We also need to be clear about the limitations of these technologies and how they can impact a driver’s safety. When it comes to public policy, we need to be careful about passing laws that allow for using hands-free devices while driving. We also need to make sure that we are educating people about the dangers of distracted driving, and that includes using voice-activated technologies.