NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Using voice commands to send text messages and emails from behind the wheel, which is marketed as a safer alternative for drivers, actually is more distracting and dangerous than simply talking on a cellphone, a new AAA study found.
Automakers have been trying to excite new-car buyers, especially younger ones, with dashboard infotainment systems that let drivers use voice commands do things like turning on windshield wipers, posting Facebook messages or ordering pizza. The pitch has been that hands-free devices are safer because they enable drivers to keep their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road.
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But talking on a hands-free phone isn’t significantly safer for drivers than talking on a hand-held phone, and using hands-free devices that translate speech into text is the most distracting of all, researchers found.
“The idea that hands-free is risk-free is really an erroneous one, especially if you’re doing some other task that’s very distracting,” AAA New York’s Robert Sinclair, Jr. told CBS 2’s Mary Calvi.
“There is a looming public safety crisis ahead with the future proliferation of these in-vehicle technologies,” said AAA President and CEO Robert L. Darbelnet.
Speech-to-text systems that enable drivers to send, scroll through or delete email and text messages required greater concentration by drivers than other potentially distracting activities examined in the study like talking on the phone, talking to a passenger, listening to a book on tape or listening to the radio.