Although the hands-free devices being implemented in vehicles are thought to make drivers safer, a new study suggests that might not be the case. The study, which was conducted by the American Automobile Association (AAA) Foundation for Traffic Safety and researchers at the University of Utah, analyzed various aspects of the utilization of hands-free devices such as head movement, reaction time, eye movement, and brain waves.
How was the research conducted?
Drivers were monitored via special cameras, an electroencephalographic (EEG) skull cap and a Detection-Response Task (DRT) as they performed various tasks while driving. Participants listened to audiobooks and the radio, used voice-activated email features and talked on their phones while operating their vehicle. The distraction levels were figured on a scale from one to three with three being the highest distraction level.
What were the findings?
Radio: Listening to the radio was rated a level one distraction, meaning it is a minimal risk.
Talking on the phone: This was rated a level two distraction, meaning it posed a moderate risk to a driver’s abilities.
Voice-activated email features: Using these features while driving were rated a level three distraction, meaning they posed an extensive risk to driver safety.
More about the study:
This study is the most in-depth study of its kind to date. The findings revealed that hands-free technology did not appear to make drivers as safe as once thought. It takes a driver’s full manual, mental and visual concentration to safely operate a vehicle.
What does this mean for drivers?
For the average driver, this study simply shines light on the fact that just because drivers may be using hands free devices while driving they can still become distracted. All drivers must seek to keep their full attention on the road at all times and avoid using any element that will result in distraction.
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