Research Finds Danger in Voice-Based Texting While Driving

ADEPT Driver, a California company that develops crash reduction programs, released a new research summary that found that using speech-to-text technologies for texting while driving is still dangerous.

The research, conducted by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, found that driver response times were significantly delayed whether they were texting manually or texting hands-free. In either case, drivers took about twice as long to react as they did when they weren't texting at all.

The research also found that the amount of time drivers spent looking at the road ahead was significantly less when they were texting, no matter which texting method was used. Additionally, manual texting required slightly less time than the voice-to-text method, but driver performance was roughly the same with both.

"We did a thorough review of the available research and consistently found evidence that hands-free texting while driving is just as risky, if not riskier, than using a hand-held device to text while behind the wheel," said Richard Harkness, a traffic safety expert and CEO of ADEPT Driver, in a statement.

Based on the performance of 43 research participants driving an actual vehicle on a closed course, the analysis compared drivers' performance in an actual driving environment while texting hands-free, texting manually on a handheld device, and driving without texting.

"As transportation and traffic safety experts share research on the use of new voice-to-text technology in cars, there is growing awareness about just how dangerous it is to drive while texting hands-free," Harkness said.

The study comes as the California state legislature considers a bill (AB313) to reverse a law passed last year that exempts hands-free voice-activated texting from a state ban on texting while driving.

In total, text messaging is banned by all drivers in 39 states and the District of Columbia, while 11 other states, Arizona, Florida, Hawaii, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Texas, have partial bans for some drivers or no bans at all, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Meanwhile, talking on hand-held cell phones while driving is banned in just 10 states—California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Washington, and West Virginia—and the District of Columbia.

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