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Is the Hands-Free Technology Harmful to Drivers?

According to several news agencies, certain voice-activated technologies designed to keep drivers from handling their phones with their hands could be just as dangerous.

Safety advocates decided to look into this issue and several researches were carried out. The reports indicate that while some believe they cause more troubles, automakers claim that the voice-command technology was developed precisely to address safety concerns.

The basic technology provides drivers with the capacity to send emails, texts and even complete calls without having to handle the phone. According to the AAA, its Foundation for Highway Safety decided to look into this matter in order to study the effect that this technology has over drivers. According to the study, the automakers should be racing to equip their vehicles with communication technologies just yet. The AAA’s FHS looked into how likely drivers would be to be involved in an accident if using the voice-activated technology and how distracted they become while doing so. Vehicles such as the BMW 7-series sedan, motorists can dictate e-mails and use the voice-command to send messages. Other models are also equipped with technology that offers options addressing the need to transcribe voice into text and Facebook updates. These technologies, safety advocates believe, should be taken with a grain of salt since drivers are still having to share their attention with the text message or phone call, despite the fact they have both hands on the wheel.

By 2019, experts evaluate that more than half of all new cars will be fully equipped with integrated technology that would make voice-command a popular tool for drivers. The Alliance for Automobile Manufacturers is concerned that by claiming that hands-free technology is just as dangerous as handheld smartphone usage, motorists will be misled to think that the connectivity technology should be dismissed. According to an official statement, studies haven’t proved that hands-free technology is just as dangerous as handheld technology.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has reported in April that drivers should be aware of the risks linked with the use of high tech technology while behind the wheel and recommended automakers to limit the number of features and gadgets

During the study, researchers looked into the impact that several different types of behavior have on drivers. According to the results, a driver who’s dictating voice to text is less likely to scan the crosswalk for pedestrians than drivers interacting or performing other activities. According to researchers, when a motorist is talking to a passenger or talking over the phone using a hands-free device, he or she can ask the person they are talking to for more information on what they just said if they missed something. If you’re dictating a message, you cannot go back. Your thoughts must be orderly and your mind must be focused on the act of dictating the message. This could lead to issues since the driver will be more likely to focus on the texting instead of paying attention to what is going around him or her while on the road.

If you would like to learn more about this study and what researchers found, follow this link to read more.

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The Vachon Law Firm is based in Southern California and focuses exclusively on consumer protection litigation.