According to a recent study by AAA, hands-free technology developed by car manufacturers and cellphone companies does not necessarily keep drivers free from distraction. Examples of this technology include Apple’s Siri, Toyota’s Entune system, and GM’s MyLink.  

For those who have used such technology, it may not come as a surprise that these systems do not always interpret voice commands accurately. This is understandable given the limits of the technology, but it may also be a source of distracted driving. The AAA study found that drivers often react to interpretation mistakes with distraction, which could put them at risk for causing accidents. 

The study ranked a number of voice command systems according to the number of mistakes they made and the number of resulting distractions. The best system considered by the study was Toyota Entune. GM’s MyLink ranked the worst. One thing the study made clear, though, was that use of hands-free systems does not necessarily lead to more car accidents. It simply showed that hands-free systems can cause driver distraction when they make interpretation mistakes.

Though helpful, the information is not really groundbreaking. A number of states have already recognized the risks of hands-free devices from the standpoint of driver distraction, and have banned certain drivers from utilizing them. Here in Massachusetts, according to Distraction.gov, hands-free devices are banned for both bus drivers and novice drivers, and those who fail to abide by the law can face penalties not only from the state but also in personal injury litigation.

Source: CBS, “Distracted driving may not be entirely your fault,” October 7, 2014.