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AAA Report: Hands Free Technology Equally Dangerous

WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass (WGGB) — Could the new wave of hands free driving technology be a waste of money? A new study by automotive group AAA suggests using driver voice commands can be as dangerous as talking on your cell-phone. This, as millions of new cars are being produced with the new technology. AAA wants the auto industry to understand there are many forms of distracted driving

You’ve heard the dangers that texting while driving can bring. And you’ve likely been told that having one hand on the wheel and the other on the cell phone is a hazard waiting to happen, but AAA says new technology is no better.

“Talking on a phone while driving has essentially the same effect, where it’s hand held or hands free device,” AAA Pioneer Valley Communications Manager Mindy Ginley said. “It also shows that using voice to text technology is much more demanding than talking on the phone.”

There are nine million cars on the road that feature voice command technology, where drivers literally talk to their car. While watching the road and holding the wheel, they can instruct the car to text, email, call, or look up directions for them.

“It’s providing drivers with a false sense of security,” Ginley said. “They need to know that the mental distractions are just as important if not more than keeping your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel.”

The study says that asking your car’s GPS for directions or turning your blinker on aren’t challenging things for your brain by themselves. It’s when you try and do them together that problems start. It’s a lesson that driving instructor Torrie Page hammers home with students.

“If your vision is focused on the stop sign that’s coming up and the phone rings and you stop to think for that two seconds or whatever it is wondering what’s going on, you lose that tunnel vision on what you should be paying attention to,” AAA Driving School Instructor Torrie Page said.

“The features are fine, but drivers need to realize they need to pull over to use them,” Ginley said.

AAA wants automakers to limit in car voice commands to critical driving tasks and to market their new technology appropriately.
By 2018, it’s estimated 62 million cars will have hands free communication features.

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