Voice activated automobile controls were marketed as a way to keep a driver’s eyes on the road while a person attempted to send a text message or change the radio station, but new studies suggest they still negatively affect the most important control mechanism – your brain.
The studies conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and the University of Utah examined how distracted drivers became when tasked with using certain voice controlled systems. The first study examined the onboard handsfree infotainment systems on some of the more popular car brands, and the second study looked at driver performance when tasked with using Siri, Apple’s voice-operated system, to preform functions like posting to Facebook or calling a friend.
The systems were graded on a 1-5 scale, with 1 representing no distraction and 5 being comparable to doing complex math problems or word memorization.
Siri scored the worst on the test, receiving an average grade of 4.14 out of 5. Twice, drivers in a car simulator rear-ended another vehicle, and oftentimes Siri would misinterpret the driver’s commands. One of the drivers had to scramble to end a call after Siri mistakenly thought the driver asked to be connected to 911.
The onboard infotainment systems didn’t fair much better in the tests. Chevrolet’s MyLink received the worst brand rating, posting a distraction level of 3.7. The onboard systems of Mercedes, Ford and Chrysler also all registered as more distracting than if the driver were simply talking on a handheld phone.
Deborah Hersman, president of the National Safety Council said the voice controlled systems need to be properly regulated.
“It is like the Wild West, where the most critical safety feature in the vehicle — the driver — is being treated like a guinea pig in human trials with new technologies.”
University of Utah professor David Strayer, who led the studies, said the more complex task the driver asks of the system, the more dangerous it can be.
“When these systems become more complex, like sending text messages or posting to Facebook, it pushes the workloads to pretty high levels and may be dangerous while driving,” Strayer said.
Despite their concerns, two vehicle systems scored pretty well on the distraction test. Toyaota’s Entune system scored a 1.7 – akin to listening to an audiobook while driving – while Hyundai’s Blue Link Telematic System scored a 2.2.
“The good news is that really well-designed systems offer us the possibility to interact in ways that aren’t so distracting,” Strayer concluded.
Related source: AP
Although in-car connectivity seems all the rage today, safety features shouldn’t take a backseat during the car buying experience. That said, many prospective car owners don’t know what type of car safety features they should be looking for in a car. With that in mind, here are five of the best safety features you should […]
Last week, our mechanics passed along some tips for what to look for when buying tires. Now that you know what to look for, the next thing you want to know is when is the best time to buy tires. Most people only think of buying tires when they have a flat or they notice […]
Minnesota ranks in the Top 10 in the nation in terms of the number of annual car accidents between a driver and a deer, so it’s no surprise that we see an uptick in deer-related maintenance requests as hunting season approaches. Minnesota drivers have the eighth highest odds of striking a deer with their vehicle, […]