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Keep smartphones away for travelling smart

27 second­s requir­ed to regain full attent­ion after using in-vehicl­e system­s and cellul­ar device­s

Research shows hands-free voice commands are ‘highly distracting’ on the road. PHOTO: FILE

Research shows hands-free voice commands are ‘highly distracting’ on the road. PHOTO: FILE

WASHINTON: If you thought it’s okay to talk to your car infotainment system or smartphone while driving then think again. New research has found that it takes up to 27 seconds to regain full attention after issuing voice commands.

University of Utah researchers conducted two studies for the traffic safety charity AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. One of the studies showed it’s highly distracting to use hands-free voice commands to dial phone numbers, call contacts, change music and send texts with Microsoft Cortana, Apple Siri and Google Now smartphone personal assistants.

In another study, they examined voice-dialing, voice-contact calling and music selection using in-vehicle information or infotainment systems in 10 model-year 2015 vehicles. Three were rated as moderately distracting, six as highly distracting and one as very highly distracting, the US-based traffic safety non-profit said in a report.

“Just because these systems are in the car doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to use them while you’re driving,” said senior author of the two studies David Strayer, psychology professor at University of Utah. “It’s better not to use them when you’re driving,” Strayer said.

The research also found that practice with voice-recognition systems doesn’t eliminate distraction. “Most people think, ‘I hang up and I’m good to go’,” Strayer said. “But that’s just not the case. We see it takes a surprisingly long time to come back to full attention. Even sending a short text message can cause almost another 30 seconds of impaired attention.” 

Published in The Express Tribune, October 24th, 2015.

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