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Voice-activated technology may increase risk of a car accident

Virginians live in a rapidly changing technological world. Technological changes are particularly evident in the realm of car design, as indicated by the advent of hands-free technology which allows drivers to do tasks while driving without the use of their hands.

Hands-free devices, with which a driver uses voice commands to perform a task, may provide the illusion of increased safety. A new study suggests that hands-free technology may not be as safe as drivers perceive it to be, however. The potential danger created by doing hands-free tasks may ultimately lead to serious car accidents.

The study, conducted jointly by the University of Utah and the AAA Foundation for Traffic Study, examined in-vehicle information systems for cars, as well as smartphones' voice assistants, and required study participants to do certain tasks, such as making a call or sending a text message, by voice activation.

The study indicated that drivers who used these voice-activated technologies were cognitively taxed by the use of the devices, and were either moderately distracted, highly distracted or very highly distracted. The drivers continued to be distracted for as long as 27 seconds after they had finished using the voice-activated technologies. Use of all of the voice-activation systems tested indicated an unsafe level of distraction, according to AAA's threshold for safety.

Cognitive distractions can be dangerous, leading to reduced reaction times or inattention blindness. Such distractions may then lead a driver to not see a pedestrian, a hazard in the road, or another vehicle, and may result in an auto accident. If you have been involved in a car collision in which the other driver was distracted due to use of voice-activated technology, you may have a legal cause of action.

Source: tidewater.aaa.com, "AAA Research Into Distraction Finds Hands-free Isn't Risk-free," accessed Jan. 22, 2016

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