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AAA Warns Against Using Hands-Free Devices While Driving

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On: Thu, Jun 13, 2013 at 2:06PM | By: Elizabeth Puckett

AAA Warns Against Using Hands-Free Devices While Driving

AAA wants drivers to know that in-car, voice-activated technology is giving you only a false sense of security, not more safety. Hands-free devices and technologies have undoubtably made it easier to talk, text, and interact on social media while driving, but you’re not doing so as safely as you think. A new study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety highlights that distracted driving is extremely deadly and doesn’t have to involve your hands being off the steering wheel or eyes off the road.

This thorough and comprehensive study leaves very little left for questioning when it comes to using a device in any way while driving. AAA has presented their research to the public in hopes to finally convince people to pay attention to the road as they drive, and nothing else!

During this research, methods used to measure distracted driving included visual monitoring, devices to record driver reaction times, and EEG caps to map mental activity & measure load on the brain.

Throughout the investigation done for this study, AAA discovered that when mental attention was divided amongst activities, acuity was greatly impacted. When driving with distractions in play, drivers were found to miss objects visually—including posted signs, animals, and even people! Using a phone while operating a car slows your reaction time and lowers overall brain function, causing you to spend less time actively engaging in your surroundings.

This phenomenon is now being coined as inattention blindness, or perceptual blindness. In basic terms, it’s like looking right at an object and not seeing it because your brain is already overloaded by attention-grabbing tasks.

The problem is people are growing increasingly more addicted to using their smartphones while driving, and automakers are catering to this urge. By 2018, it’s projected that the number of infotainment systems (which enables voice-to-text and other phone features while driving) is expected to increase by five times.

Distracted driving is a matter of public safety and with these new technologies becoming more common, many are seeing a full blown crisis on the horizon. AAA is urging auto manufactures to severely limit voice controls and technology to simple tasks. They suggest implementing voice-activated controls only to operate relevant and necessary activities such as engaging windshield wipers, adjusting climate controls, and engaging cruise controls. They are also calling for features which will disable the use of social media sites, texting, and emailing while the automobile is moving.

According to the U.S. Government website for distracted driving, Distraction.Gov, over 3,000 people were killed in distracted-driving-related accidents in 2010. They also have their own evidence available that cellphone headset use is not safer than hand-held cell use. Their sources also explain that using a phone decreases brain activity needed for driving by an astonishing 37%.

Hopefully, this new information from AAA combined with existing data will open the eyes of drivers and prompt a voluntary end of phone use while driving.


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