Study: Hands-free devices still cause driver distraction - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Study: Hands-free devices still cause driver distraction

A new study, done for the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, reveals that voice activation can overload a driver's attention span – hurting their ability to drive safely. A new study, done for the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, reveals that voice activation can overload a driver's attention span – hurting their ability to drive safely.
Shannon Pitner has taught teens how to drive for more than 30 years. Shannon Pitner has taught teens how to drive for more than 30 years.

(WMC-TV) - Using a hands-free device to talk on the phone, text or send e-mails while driving is still distracting. A new study, done for the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, reveals that voice activation can overload a driver's attention span – hurting their ability to drive safely.

More than 70 percent of Americans think hands-free devices are safer.

"It used to be if you saw someone drifting out of their lane, you would have thought they might have been drinking ... or tired," said driving instructor Shannon Pitner.

Pitner has taught teens how to drive for more than 30 years. He said over time the discussion of distracted driving has shifted from loud radios to texting and now to hands-free devices.

"When you're driving you have tunnel vision when you're talking on the phone," said Pitner.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety's study reveals that voice activation can be more of a distraction than texting.

"Hands-free does not mean distraction free. It does not mean risk free," said Pitner.

The study showed that driving and checking email or Facebook while using a voice-activated system requires more concentration, meaning a lesser focus on the road even with both hands on the wheel.

"The streets have gotten a lot scarier now because of that," said Pitner.

Currently Tennessee law bans texting and driving, but new technologies like this could change how the laws are enforced.

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