SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Nation/World

June 13, 2013

Study: Hands-free devices don't cut risk for drivers

WASHINGTON (MCT) — Hands-free, voice-activated automobile systems that enable drivers to talk, text and email distract motorists and delay reaction time, according to a study released yesterday.

“It’s time to consider limiting new and potentially dangerous mental distractions built into cars, particularly with the common public misperception that hands-free means risk-free,” said Robert L. Darbelnet, AAA’s president and chief executive. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety sponsored the study.

The AAA chief warned of a “looming public safety crisis,” citing a projected fivefold increase in info-tainment systems in vehicles, from 9 million this year to more than 62 million in 2018.

University of Utah researchers, who conducted the study measuring such things as drivers’ brain waves and reaction time, rated the levels of mental distraction.

Use of speech-to-text systems to send and receive text or email messages drew the most concern, producing a “relatively high level of cognitive distraction,” according to the report.

It rated listening to the radio 1.21 or a book on tape 1.75, a small increase in cognitive distraction. But speaking on a hands-free phone, 2.27, was rated only slightly less distracting than using a hand-held phone, 2.45. Use of speech-to-text devices to send and receive text or email messages received a 3.06.

“The data suggest that a rush to voice-based interactions in the vehicle may have unintended consequences that adversely affect traffic safety,” the study said.

Gary Shapiro, president and chief executive of the Consumer Electronics Association, said in a statement that the AAA-sponsored study “suffers from a number of methodology flaws, and, as a result, its broad conclusions about voice-to-text technology should be questioned.”

The association said the report relied on young drivers in unfamiliar cars, wearing a type of helmet and driving on a defined course. “It did not track real drivers in real situations,” Shapiro said.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Nation/World

Local News
  • State sets tax holiday BOSTON -- Shoppers will get a holiday from the state sales tax on Aug. 16 and 17, after state lawmakers finally agreed on a weekend. The tax-free holiday has been an annual event since 2004, with the exception of 2009, when the state raised the sales

    August 1, 2014

  • crab Little green invaders threatening local clam flats IPSWICH -- The green crab is eating our lunch. It's been eating its way through Northeastern shellfish for years, and some local experts are worried that the undersized crustacean, about 31/2 to 4 inches across, has reached critical mass. The creatur

    August 1, 2014 2 Photos

  • Shoppers1 Despite shopping elsewhere, Market Basket customers remain loyal

    SALEM -- Local Market Basket customers can't hold out any longer as the company continues to weigh offers to buy the chain, including one from ousted CEO Arthur T. Demoulas. "I'm very proud of the employees and customers who have been holding out," s

    August 1, 2014 4 Photos 4 Stories

  • 140731_SN_DLE_APARTMENT6 Developer unveils new Peabody Square apartments PEABODY -- It's an indication of what he and his business partners want to do in the city's downtown, Norman Lee said Thursday as he showed off the stylish interiors of 10 brand-new apartments above Congressman John Tierney's office in Peabody Square

    August 1, 2014 10 Photos

  • Scandal raises questions about speaker's powers BOSTON -- The speaker of the state House of Representatives gets far-reaching powers to carve up the budget, control which bills advance, dole out committee chairmanships and reward favored lawmakers with plum office space on Beacon Hill. But the spe

    August 1, 2014