What to Do When Your Car Talks to You
Many new cars talk to their drivers. Hands-free devices are the latest high tech safety option offered in new vehicles. By talking to your car you can make hands-free phone calls, compose or “read” text messages, and do other tasks without taking your hands off the wheel. But are voice-activated devices that allow a driver to multi-task serving to make driving more safe, or does such equipment distract the driver or divide the driver’s attention and lead to more accidents?
Recent studies conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety suggest that talking with your car through a voice-activated device may actually increase the risk of being involved in a distracted driving collision.
An overly complex voice-activated dialing system may take more mental effort to operate than briefly ignoring the road to push buttons to make a call. A driver focused on getting a voice activated device to operate may lose the ability to concentrate on driving. So, the supposedly safe act of operating a voice-activated calling system may be more distracting than manually doing the same task.
So what is the solution? The studies suggest that voice-activated or hands-free devices must be simple to use. Moreover, before using such systems drivers must:
- Read the operating manual and practice using voice-activated features while parked,
- Set cell phones to send incoming calls to voice mail while the phone is linked to the vehicle,
- Limit outgoing calls to those that are absolutely necessary,
- Do not initiate or accept a call when traffic demands full concentration, and,
- No matter how tempting finished driving before checking emails or sending messages.
Simple rule: Strive to minimize all distractions while driving; give complete attention to traffic and the demands of operating a multi ton motor vehicle.