Study: Voice-activated technology poses crash risk for Tennessee drivers

In-car information systems are widely seen as a way to cut down on auto accidents, but a recent study found this technology still poses a crash risk.

For the most part, drivers in Davidson County and throughout Tennessee are aware of the risks of drunk driving and speeding. However, people often overlook the dangers of distracted driving. According to the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, there were 22,960 distracted driving accidents cross the state in 2015 alone. Often, those who are involved in such collisions suffer serious injuries or death.

In order to improve vehicle occupant safety, a number of automakers have developed in-car information systems. Also referred to as infotainment systems, this voice-activated technology was developed, in large part, to increase vehicle convenience and to reduce the number of distraction-related collisions. However, based on a recent study, using these systems still poses a crash risk for drivers.

Studying the effects of voice-activated interactions on motorists

In cooperation with the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, researchers from the University of Utah conducted a study to learn how using infotainments systems affect motorists' cognitive workloads. For the study, the researchers asked 257 participants to perform tasks using the in-car information systems in one of 10 different model-year 2015 vehicles. Additionally, voice-activated phone systems from Apple, Google and Microsoft were tested by 65 study participants. The tasks they performed included music selection, voice contact calling and voice dialing.

In order to establish a baseline, the study's participants were monitored while performing these tasks. After their initial assessments, the participants were allowed to take the vehicles home and practice using the infotainment systems for five days. Following the practice period, the participants returned and were monitored again as they performed the tasks.

Infotainment systems do not eliminate distractions

Overall, the study found that in-car information systems can be a significant, lingering distraction for drivers. The New York Times reported that the study showed a driver's attention may be diverted for between 15 and 27 seconds after they finish using voice-activated systems. This is because they often have to refocus and determine their speed, where they are and the locations of the other vehicles on the road.

Many of those who support in-car information systems argue that practice may eliminate the distractions caused by this type of technology. However, the research did not support this claim. For the most part, the participants in the study experienced the same level of distraction before and after the practice period. Thus, using these systems may still pose a motor vehicle accident risk for drivers.

Consulting with an attorney


When people in Tennessee, and elsewhere, are involved in distracted driving accidents, they may suffer injuries that require extensive medical treatment and time off of work to recover. As a result, they may incur damages such as medical bills and lost wages. Depending on the circumstances of the collision, the negligent drivers may be held liable. Therefore, those who have suffered such injuries and damages may benefit from working with an attorney. A lawyer may help ensure their rights are upheld, as well as help them understand their options for seeking financial justice.

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