Chicago, IL (Law Firm Newswire) May 14, 2012 – In an effort to reduce distracted driving, automakers are enabling drivers to control their mobile phones, navigation systems, vehicle climate, and other items with their voice.
While voice controls may prevent drivers from looking away from traffic, their focus may still be on controlling their gadgets. “It certainly is better for drivers to be able to keep their eyes on the road, but voice controls don’t go far enough,” said Chicago personal injury attorney Robert Briskman. “Distracted driving is really a matter of the driver’s mental state. Multitasking while operating a vehicle is what causes accidents.”
Voice controls can be used to accomplish a variety of dashboard and communication tasks, but according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), there is not enough research on whether voice controls help or hurt drivers’ focus. In December, the NTSB recommended banning all mobile devices in cars, except in the case of an emergency or for navigation purposes. Distracted driving is the cause of 3,000 of the 33,000 highway fatalities each year.
In February of this year, the National Highway Transportation Administration (NHTSA) proposed new guidelines for in-car devices but the administration does not plan on addressing the issue of voice controls until 2014 at the earliest.
David Strayer, a researcher and psychology professor from the University of Utah, has analyzed driver distraction as part of a study commissioned by AAA as part of their Foundation for Highway Safety. He found that when drivers used voice controls to have an email read to them, it took measurably longer for them to properly react to the sight of brake lights in front of them than when listening to the radio or a mobile phone call.
“It is probably correct that voice controls may reduce the risks associated with performing tasks like navigation while driving,” said Chicago personal injury lawyer, Briskman. “But drivers need to remember that voice controls and hands-free devices are not distraction-free.”
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