Voice-control systems tax drivers

Drivers using voice-controlled systems take their eyes off the road more than expected, safety researchers have found. The total "glance time" for some interactive tasks appeared to exceed the federal guidelines for visual-manual interactions by drivers. The MIT study delivered a mix of good and bad news: "Both positive features and concerns associated with the use of the voice interface were identified." Age seemed to be linked with the challenges of using these interactive dashboard systems: The results suggested that older drivers tended to be more distracted than younger subjects, … [Read more...]

In-dash hands-free flunks test

Citing "a looming public safety crisis" from in-vehicle communications technologies, AAA released a study that again concludes hands-free is not risk free. "Just because a new technology does not take the eyes off the road does not make it safe," said the report from David Strayer's team at the University of Utah. AAA predicts a "five-fold increase in infotainment systems in new vehicles by 2018." "A rush to voice-based interactions in the vehicle may have unintended consequences that adversely affect vehicle safety," the researchers concluded. The report came a day after Apple … [Read more...]

Hands-free texting OK’d in California

Californians soon will be free to use hands-free technology to text message while driving, under a measure signed into law Friday. The bill's sponsor called passage "a huge victory for commuters." Assemblyman Jeff Miller, R-Corona, pushed through the relatively low profile AB 1536. He cited the burden of current distracted driving limits on business people who spend so much time in vehicles: "I can relate to the frustration of many Californians who were unable to communicate with friends, family and business partners while driving because it is currently against the law to operate text … [Read more...]

DOT ‘guidelines’ for auto tech

The Information Super Highway and real highways aren't a good mix, federal regulators say. The Department of Transportation has issued "proposed voluntary guidelines" for automakers who offer digital entertainment and information systems on their vehicles' dashboards. The electronic distraction guidelines include a call to automakers to block text messaging, Internet browsing and social-media use while the vehicle is not stopped and parked. There is also a 2-second limit on driver activity that requires taking their eyes off the road. Drivers would not be able to manually enter the standard … [Read more...]

Stick shifts slowing distracted teens

Stick shifts aren't extinct -- it just seems that way -- and concerns over teen safety may be helping the manual transmission systems make a mini-comeback. A Northern California TV station reports that some area parents are buying their teenagers vehicles with stick shifts in order to keep the kids' hands off cell phones. Sacramento News10 interviewed a 17-year-old who says that while many of her friends text and drive, "With a stick shift, I can't really check my phone," she said. Her parents bought her a Honda Civic. Stick shifts have largely disappeared in the U.S., with about 5.5 … [Read more...]