Hands-free driving still dangerous, says AAA - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Hands-free driving still dangerous, says AAA

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New research is raising questions about the dangers of using hands-free, voice activated systems while driving.

A study released Tuesday by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety finds hands-free, voice-activated systems increase the amount of distraction a driver has to deal with... and increase the chances of an accident.

Researchers from the University of Utah studied reaction times of drivers using voice-activated systems to make phone calls or to change the radio station.  They found drivers had slower reaction times and increased levels of distraction.

"I think the most surprising thing from our research was just how distracting it can be when you're trying to talk to your car to turn the radio on, or change the radio or place an outgoing call. It's much more demanding than what we've seen with kind of more conventional ways of doing things like talking on a cell phone," said researcher Dr. David Strayer.

AAA is urging manufacturers to focus on accuracy and make the products less complicated, and found the least distracting voice recognition systems to be Toyota, Hyundai and Chrysler.  The most distracting were Chevy, Mercedes and Ford.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,328 people were killed nationwide last year in distracted driving accidents.  Another 421-thousand were injured.

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