Study Shows Hands-Free and Manual Texting Each Reduce Focus

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A new study seems to back up the idea that drivers ought to refrain from using even voice-activated texting technology.  The news comes as California lawmakers get ready to debate a ban on such communications among all drivers.

The Texas Transportation Institute conducted the study, which tracked the abilities of 43 drivers going 30 miles per hour for ten minutes at a time.  Four different activities were carried out during each of the allotted timeframes:  normal driving, manual texting while driving, and texting at the wheel using the voice function of the iPhone and the Android.

When texting occurred, whether it was manual or otherwise, the drivers reportedly had their response times doubled.  Performance tended to suffer in equal degrees, perhaps due to the fact that the driver spent far less time paying attention to the road laid out in front of them.  What’s more, although one would think that simply speaking into a device would speed up texting, this method actually took longer than basic manual texting.

So why is it that voice activation is just as dangerous as manual texting?  The National Safety Council’s vice president explains that a driver’s mental focus is placed on the message even if their eyes are ostensibly facing forward.  Plus, the limitations of current voice-to-text technology mean that a driver must look down to confirm their message is accurate.

Drivers should get the hint:  texting is never acceptable at the wheel, even on a hands-free device.