Study: Voice-activated technology in vehicles does not lower distraction

Study: Voice-activated technology in vehicles does not lower distraction

As technology advances, many motorists are simply finding more ways to become distracted on Illinois roadways. As any Illinois car accident lawyer knows, cell phones and other hand-held devices have long been some of the most distracting pieces of technology known to man, and many efforts have been employed to reduce and eliminate their use by drivers. One such effort included the use of voice-activated technology. However, a new study indicates that this technology, especially when not properly executed, actually increases distraction instead of reducing or eliminating it.

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Martinovich 1 - Voice_Activated technology and driving distractions

Study details

The American Automobile Association’s Foundation for Traffic Safety recently released the study which evaluated the level of distraction that many voice-activated systems cause for motorists. These programs allow motorists to control many auxiliary features in their vehicles, such as navigation programs, radio controls, and making calls on their cell phones, through the use of voice commands.

Researchers from the University of Utah, in conjunction with the AAA, utilized heart-rate monitors, instrumented test vehicles and other reaction time measurement equipment to perform the study. Using a rating system, researchers ranked six of the most common voice-command systems found in vehicles today according to how distracting they proved for drivers.


Researchers discovered that when the voice-commands fail to provide the desired result, drivers become more distracted trying to get the system to work properly. Even when systems are accurate, they are still more distracting than found in the use of hand-held devices. Some things, like composing text or email messages, were more distracting than others, such as listening to missed phone messages. In one instance, the voice system became so distracting for a driver that she rear-ended the car in front of her in a simulation. Had it been a real accident, both she and the other driver may have been severely injured and required the assistance of an Illinois car accident lawyer.

Distraction costs lives

According to, 3,328 people were killed in accidents in which distraction was a causal factor in 2012. That year another 421,000 people sustained an injury in similar crashes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that distraction comes in three main forms: cognitive, visual and manual distractions. Cognitive distraction occurs when drivers no longer focus on the task at hand. Visual distraction involves drivers failing to look at the road, and manual distractions happen whenever drivers take their hands off the steering wheel. While voice-activated systems are only cognitively distracting, they are among the most dangerous forms of distraction seen today. When a person’s mind is not on the task of driving, they are unable to respond to outside events and prevent accidents.

Those who have been injured in an accident with a distracted driver should contact an Illinois car accident lawyer immediately. With the help of an attorney, victims have the greatest chance of receiving compensation for the injuries and losses.