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Study: Hands-Free Devices Distract Drivers for 27 Seconds

Technology Leads to More Distractions

New technology is exciting. But we ran into a problem a few years ago when cell phones and handheld devices grew more popular. We found that these devices created a lot of driving distractions that led to crashes. Since then, laws have been implemented to prevent the use of these devices while driving. Today, hands-free devices are promoted for use in the car.

Using these devices, we can simply ask our smartphone or car system to make a phone call or change the song playing. This hands-free, robot-like technology is believed to be safer on the road since drivers use their voice instead of typing on a screen. And after all, drivers aren’t distracted if they keep their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road while using hands-free technology, right? Not according to a new study.

Hands-Free Devices Are Still Distracting

Hands-free technology is continually being implemented into new cars. But a recent study found that even hands-free devices are distracting to drivers. The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Utah for the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, compared 10 different 2015 model year vehicles equipped with hands-free in-vehicle information systems (IVIS). Three smartphone voice-assistants were also tested including Apple Siri, Microsoft Cortana and Google Now.

To test the distraction level of the IVIS, participating drivers were told to make a voice-command such as make a phone call using a contact’s name, make a phone call by dialing a number, or change the radio station. The study found that the driver was impaired for 27 seconds after the interaction with the IVIS terminated. This means that even when a driver ended a hands-free phone call, the driver was still distracted for almost 30 seconds after. In this amount of time, drivers traveling at 25mph would cover the length of three football fields before turning their full attention back to the road.

Lasting Effects Hands Free
The study found that practice with these systems does not reduce the level of distraction over time. It also discovered that older drivers become more distracted than younger drivers after stating a voice command. The cars and smartphones had varying distraction levels. Microsoft Cortana was the most distracting smartphone system followed by Apple Siri and Google Now. The IVIS system in the Mazda 6 had a very high distraction level while the Chevy Equinonx and Buick Lacrosse had the lowest distraction levels.

Distraction-Rankings-by-Vehicle-System

Distracted Driving Accident Statistics

It is alarming that even hands-free devices are distracting to drivers. While not as distracting as texting, these devices may still lead to distracted driving crashes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were 3,328 people killed and about 421,000 injured in distracted driving crashes in 2012. This means that each day about 9 people were killed and 1,153 injured because of a distracted driver. Crashes due to distracted driving are preventable. If more drivers focused on the road there would be less crashes, injuries, and deaths caused by distracted driving.

Philadelphia Distracted Driving Attorney

The car accident lawyers at Kane & Silverman know that these avoidable crashes are caused by the negligence of a driver. That’s why when you or a loved one has been injured or killed because of a distracted driver, we will fight for your compensation. By holding the distracted driver accountable for negligence, we hope to reduce distracted driving accidents in the future. Contact a Philadelphia distracted driving accident attorney at Kane and Silverman today. Call us at 215-232-1000 or reach out using our online contact form.