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Flaws in voice-activated devices distracting for drivers

Voice activated devices enable drivers to create emails, text, dial phone numbers and perform a host of other tasks without having to remove their hands from the steering wheel and eyes from the road. Many new vehicles are equipped with voice-activated technology, which was designed to specifically remove these visual and manual distractions. A follow-up cognitive distraction published by AAA, however, shows that flaws in these systems can cause drivers to experience greater levels of distraction.

Participants in the study were asked to use voice-activated technology to perform several tasks while driving. Drivers were asked to listen to and compose replies to text and email messages read by a computerized voice as well as a natural voice. Drivers were also asked to interact with several menu-based technologies, including one with little to no flaws and one with moderate reliability. Furthermore, participants used Siri to update their social medial statuses, compose and listen to emails and texts and modify appointments on their calendars. Lastly, drivers were made to conduct simple car commands using the voice-activate technology.

 Results from the study revealed that flaws in the voice-activated programs, caused greater levels of cognitive distraction in drivers. For example, when motorists tried to use the program and it did not understand certain commands or performed the wrong tasks, drivers became agitated and distracted while attempting to fix the problem. Researchers concluded that if vehicle manufacturers refined the technology to take out these glitches, using the devices would decrease cognitive distraction by a considerable amount. 

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