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New research on distracted driving causes and prevention disclosed some unexpected findings.  A new study by AAA indicates that voice-control systems may be just as distracting for drivers of vehicles as texting by hand.  Furthermore, the design of the voice control system, whether the vehicle’s in-dash control or Apple’s Siri assistant, can be even more distracting.

Bob Darbelnet, chief executive officer of AAA, said in a statement “We already know that drivers can miss stop signs, pedestrians and other cars while using voice technologies because their minds are not fully focused on the road ahead.  We now understand that current shortcomings in these products, intended as safety features, may unintentionally cause greater levels of cognitive distraction.”

The AAA study was conducted by researchers at the University of Utah.  Thirty-six drivers operated six new vehicles – one Chevrolet, one Ford, one Chrysler, one Toyota, one Hyundai and one Mercedes – through a short course.  The drivers were asked  to perform several voice commands through the dashboards including making a phone call and changing music.  Their heart rates were monitored and they were asked to respond to a flashing light to measure how hard their brains were working.

Daily driving activities were rated on a scale from 1 to 5.  The researchers found that listening to the radio ranked as a “1” while attempting to compose an email using voice commands ranked at a “3.”  Being distracted to the point that they could not focus on driving was ranked at a “5.”  In the tests, Apple’s Siri system was rated as a “4.”

Of the vehicles tested, Toyota’s Entune system was deemed to be the easiest to use, resulting in the least amount of distraction.  Using Entune was determined to be roughly equivalent to listening to an audiobook.  At the other end of the scale, Chevrolet’s MyLink was determined to be the most distracting.

Based on the results of this study, AAA continued to urge drivers to refrain from using any voice controls while they are operating a motor vehicle and pushed automakers to change their in-dash systems.

Distracted driving is a major cause of automobile accidents and has become the focus of many laws and proposed legislation in an attempt to reduce the number of motor vehicle crashes caused by driver inattention.  Anything that causes a driver to be unable to focus on driving is considered distracted driving – texting, emails, internet, GPS systems, eating, cell phone usage.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an automobile accident, the Ohio automobile accident injury attorneys contact Clark, Perdue & List.  Clark, Perdue & List has successfully represented hundreds of automobile accident victims and their families.