Does Your Car Talk to You? Beware

We all know (or should) the dangers of texting and sometimes, even talking on the phone, while driving.  But a new study has found that talking to our car could be just as distracting, too.

Past human factors/ergonomics studies have shown that some in-vehicle technologies intended to help with driving tasks are actually competing for drivers’ attention and undermining driving safety, according to Human factors/ergonomics studies over the past 10-plus years have examined a variety of distractors, including watching TV (yes), emailing and, of course, putting on makeup.

Researchers conducted a series of experiments aimed at determining the relationship between cognitive distraction of various kinds and on-road crash risk. Distracting tasks included listening to the radio, talking on both handheld and hands-free phones, and interacting with voice-to-text e-mail.

Their results from baseline, driving simulator, and on-road conditions using a number of measurement techniques led to the development of a 5-point scale of minimum to maximum distraction. Listening to the radio fell at the low end of the scale, and, not surprisingly, voice-to-text e-mail interaction neared the top of the scale.I guess they didn't look into putting on makeup.

Now I drive a fairly new car but it's too basic to have the talking stuff.  However, my husband, who inherited a much more expensive car from his mother, has it and I have to tell you, it's very distracting.  Especially when something goes wrong and the voice won't shut up.

One researcher comments, “Cognitive distraction represents a growing safety issue, especially with the increasing computerization of cars. There are so many information systems and devices that can distract drivers and jeopardize driving safety"

Well, we all knew that.


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