AAA: Hands-free, eyes-free car systems not safe

Earlier this week, Apple unveiled iOS in the Car, a system designed to allow you to better operate Siri in your car without taking your eyes off the road. This, and other hands-free innovations are meant to improve driver and pedestrian safety. However, a new study indicates that these safety measures may actually introduce safety challenges of their own. 

A study just released by AAA (the American Automobile Association) found that drivers experience "cognitive distraction" even while operating eyes-free and hands-free technologies in a vehicle. Using results from tests conducted by a research team at the University of Utah that measured brainwaves and eye movement, AAA found that even with their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel, tech-powered in-car distractions can easily lead to drivers not seeing stop signs and even pedestrians that are right in front of them.

Commenting on the findings, AAA president Robert L. Darbelnet said, "there is a looming public safety crisis ahead with the future proliferation of these in-vehicle technologies. It's time to consider limiting new and potentially dangerous mental distractions built into cars, particularly with the common public misperception that hands-free means risk-free."

What this means for systems like iOS in the Car, and even devices like Google Glass (already banned for drivers in West Virginia), is unclear. But it does mean that lawmakers will likely begin to take another look at the safety of these new in-car voice-operated systems that claim to offer futuristic functionality, but could lead to an overall decrease in vehicular and pedestrian safety. 

You can see a brief clip showing some of the cognitive distraction testing in the video below. 


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