An AAA study released today debunks the myth that voice-activated and hands-free devices eliminate driver distraction concluding that drivers who use hands-free devices to talk, text, send emails or give voice commands can “overload” their attention span. Commands that are not short and simple are not too distracting. But checking email or Facebook accounts significantly impair concentration levels.
Researchers mounted cameras inside a car to track eye and head movements. The participants were fitted with electroencephalographic (EEG) caps to chart brain activity, helping researchers determine the “mental workload.” Response time to traffic lights was recorded using a “Detection-Response-Task” device.
Listening to the radio presented a minimal risk. Talking on a cellphone, whether handheld or hands free, presented a moderate risk. However, listening and responding to a voice-activated email program created an “extensive” risk.
Bottom line: When behind a wheel, you only true focus should be the road and your driving.