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Voice texts as dangerous when driving as hands-on texting

The impact of technology on society is undeniable, perhaps exemplified most by cellphones. Everyone has one that accompanies them wherever they go. While no one can argue that they aren't handy to have, depending on how they are used, they can be deadly.

You'd have to be living underneath a rock not to have gotten the message that texting while driving is very dangerous. The tech industry responded to these safety concerns by developing smartphones that are controlled by voice. A driver can get updated texts read out loud to him or her behind the wheel and then dictate the reply to be sent. Drivers can even use speech to issue commands by prefacing those commands with the phrase, "Okay, Google."

So do the new technologies make cellphone use while driving any safer since the driver can keep eyes on road and hands on wheel?

Actually, no. Cellphone usage while driving is a major factor in collisions and is responsible for more wrecks than impaired driving from drugs or alcohol.

Research has shown that the mental distraction from cellphone usage is what causes the problems. Texas A&M Transportation Institute tested drivers on closed courses under the following three conditions:

  • No texting
  • Texting using only voice commands
  • Hands-on texting

The results were troubling, as it made no difference if the texts were sent by voice or manually, making the driver's "response times . . . significantly delayed" regardless of the texting method. Texting drivers took nearly two times longer to react than non-texting drivers and also took their eyes off the road more frequently when voice texting.

With this in mind, drivers can refrain from texting in any form while driving. Those who suffered injuries in a collision with a texting driver can pursue financial remuneration for their losses and damages.

Source: Scientific American, "Hands-Free Texting Is No Safer to Use While Driving," David Pogue, accessed Aug. 18, 2017

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Brian Jensen

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