A recent study performed by the Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M has revealed that using voice commands to text while driving was equally as dangerous as looking down at the phone and manually texting.
With the government also issuing new guidelines to manufacturers, this study backs up the premise that focusing elsewhere than driving is dangerous.
This study attempts to show that the act of thinking about texting, or talking on the phone, or trying to remember voice commands is a distraction itself that can cause accidents. When utilizing voice command systems, the driver is still not completely focused on the road, and will even look away.
This study, along with the current government guidelines could potentially cause auto manufacturers to be more strict in the use of phone controls while the vehicle is in motion. There is an app available now for Android that will automatically reply to a text message while driving to tell the person sending that text that the driver is unavailable to talk. Such systems could easily be implemented into the factory systems.
While it is easy to say “just do not text and drive, even if using a handsfree system” it is not a practical reality for that to occur. Texting by voice when it is safe to do so (light traffic, sunny weather) is probably the best advice.
Despite all of the advice, adults still continue to text and drive, even knowing the safety and legal ramifications. States have begun legislating distracted driving further, and with new devices coming along to actively restrict cell phone usage to drive the car, there are more intensive enforcement strategies available.
Distracted driving is not going away, and with the media attention presently on it, more studies like this will most likely come along supporting the notion of not using any device while the vehicle is in motion. Unless auto makers and phone manufacturers make it safer, smartphone activities might be legislated right out of vehicles.