Almost everyone has a mobile phone. And since communication has become second nature to humans in the modern age, it is common to find people driving whilst on their mobile phone. Simply drive around for 5 minutes and look around. The possibility of you getting ran over by someone texting while driving, is higher than getting hit by a car in any other form these days.
So, to make life easier, modern cars has equipped their infotainment system with applications that enables you to write a text message, without you writing it. Simply, say what you want the message to be written, and the car picks up the words via microphone, and transmits these words, into text. Hence, ‘Hands-Free Texting’. This means the driver is not required to hold the phone and text. Sounds safe right?
Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M University has conducted a research recently, and they ‘discovered’ that hands-free texting is just as unsafe as texting. They say, voice-to-text softwares are very distracting, and from the research they carried out, the driving behaviour is surprisingly similar to texting on the phone. They conducted this research using 3 different scenarios.
- Driving without texting
- Driving while texting on the mobile phone
- Driving while texting via hands-free
They found that scenario #2 and #3 was almost identical. Although the driver felt more relaxed and comfortable texting via hands-free, the level of Eye Contact on the road dropped significantly. Reaction times for both scenarios were also significantly similar, and twice the length of driving without texting. Which is of course, dangerous!
According to the head researcher, Christine Yager - “You’re still using your mind to try to think of what you’re trying to say, and that by proxy causes some driving impairment, and that decreases your response time”. Also, her team found that most of the time, the driver loses concentration simply due to correcting the mistakes made by the software.
Multitasking is not for everyone, but if its a matter of ‘life and death’, lets just stop at the side of the road and text shall we?