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19
Oct

Is Apple’s Siri trying to Kill YOU?
  • by Keith Fuicelli

driverSiri is just one of numerous hands-free options a driver can employ to use their cellphone while driving. Android options exist that also allow you to talk your way through making a phone call, texting a friend, or even playing your favorite song. While voice control options, like Siri might seem like safer alternatives, they are not.

A person would almost have to exist in a vacuum in order to be unaware of just how dangerous texting and driving can be. While teens appear to be most at risk for distracted driving due to cell phone use and texting, even adults who are fully aware of the dangers are guilty of using their cell phone while driving. The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute places the crash risk of texting while driving at 23 times that of driving without the distraction of texting.

A number of state have passed laws banning texting, use of a cell phone at all, or requiring the use of hands-free or wireless phones while driving. While this would certainly seem to put a halt to driving while texting or holding a cell phone and talking, in fact many drivers simply ignore the bans. It can be especially difficult for police officers to a) stop a person in heavy traffic who is observed texting or talking on a cell phone and b) prove the person was in fact engaging in texting or talking while driving.

What About Hands-Free Devices and In-Car Voice Controls?

A State Farm-funded report concluded that hands-free devices really haven’t helped curb the problem all that much, and, surprisingly, found no conclusive evidence that the use of hands-free cell phones were less risky than hand-held cell phone use. Newer research, supported by AAA, concludes these systems using voice controls may be every bit as much of a distraction as using hands to text—no matter whether the driver is using their vehicle’s in-dash voice controls, or Apple’s Siri.

The study found that drivers are almost as distracted when using voice controlled devices simply because their brains are focused on making themselves understood and listening to the answers rather than paying attention to other drivers and the road around them.  This type of cognitive distraction, simply puts the driver’s mind elsewhere, leaving them unable to have a quick reaction to another driver’s action, debris in the roadway, an animal crossing the road, a pedestrian or any number of other things drivers routinely come into contact with. Drivers using voice-controlled technologies can miss stop signs, bicyclists and other cars, due to this lack of cognitive focus, with the result potentially being a serious or fatal accident.

How the Study Was Set Up

The AAA study had 162 drivers, drive the course in six different automobiles (a Mercedes, Hyundai, Toyota, Chevy, Chrysler and Ford) through a constructed loop while completing a sequence of voice instructions. These commands included such things as dialing a phone, changing the music and asking Siri a question. The heart rates of the subjects were measured, as well as a measurement taken via a device attached to their heads which determined how demanding the tasks were on their brains. On a one to five scale (with five being the driver was so distracted as to be completely unable to focus on driving), listening to the radio scored a one, talking to Siri scored a four and writing an e-mail using voice commands ranked at three.

Of the six car models tested, Toyota’s Entune appeared to be the easiest in-car voice control device to use with the least amount of distraction. Chevy’s MyLink was, hands-down, the most distracting system. Researchers concede that the subjects were unfamiliar with any of the systems and that Toyota’s system is the simplest to use. Obviously, practice with the various systems would likely result in less distraction while using the in-car voice controls. Even so, the results were compelling enough that AAA is now urging drivers to skip using voice controls while driving, and asking manufacturers to simplify in-dash systems. Despite these results, the question remains—is anyone listening, or will drivers continue to use in-dash voice control systems just as many drivers ignore the bans, persisting in the dangerous habit of texting while driving?

Contact Denver Car Accident Lawyers

fuicelli-lee-denver-personal-injury-attorneyIf you or someone you love has been injured in an accident with a texting driver, you need a lawyer on your side from the start. For a free initial consultation with Fuicelli & Lee, PC, send us an e-mail or call (303) 355-7202. You pay nothing unless you receive a financial settlement or award. It is simply the mission of every Denver auto accident attorney on the Fuicelli & Lee team to provide the best service possible.

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