By Al Sunshine, SouthFloridaReporter.com, Consumer Investigator, Oct. 23, 2015 – I know from my experience futzing around with Siri or other voice systems, that they look and sound cool.
But the damn things rarely work right and can be more of a pain than their worth. Especially while driving.
Triple -A agrees and is naming names.
It found “mental distraction” can last for a few minutes after using these increasingly popular devices, and it believes they can become potentially serious safety hazards.
The researchers discovered the residual effects of mental distraction while comparing new hands-free technologies in ten 2015 vehicles and three types of smart phones. The analysis found that all systems studied increased mental distraction to potentially unsafe levels. The systems that performed best generally had fewer errors, required less time on task and were relatively easy to use.
The researchers rated mental distraction on a five-point scale. Category one represents a mild level of distraction and category five represents the maximum. AAA considers a mental distraction rating of two and higher to be potentially dangerous while driving.
The best performing system was the Chevy Equinox with a cognitive distraction rating of 2.4, while the worst performing system was the Mazda 6 with a cognitive distraction rating of 4.6. Among phone systems, Google Now performed best with a distraction rating of 3.0, while Apple Siri and Microsoft Cortana earned ratings of 3.4 and 3.8. Using the phones to send texts significantly increased the level of mental distraction. While sending voice-activated texts, Google Now rated as a category 3.3 distraction, while Apple Siri and Microsoft Cortana rated as category 3.7 and category 4.1 distractions.
“The massive increase in voice-activated technologies in cars and phones represents a growing safety problem for drivers,” continued Doney. “We are concerned that these new systems may invite driver distraction, even as overwhelming scientific evidence concludes that hands-free is not risk free.”
There are no federal standards regulating how these systems work. Most states ban “distracted driving” but don’t define it what it means.
Auto safety experts have long warned, if you have to make an important call or text, safely pull over to the side of the road until you can concentrate 100% on getting back to driving.
As for me, my hands free system works sometime. And I have turned the damn thing off more than once when it doesn’t work right and I don’t want to mess around with it in traffic.