Using voice to send text messages while driving is just as dangerous as
texting with fingers, with driver response times significantly delayed no matter
which method was used, a study released showed.
The study by the Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M University
was the first to compare voice-to-text and traditional texting on a handheld
device in an actual driving environment.
"In each case, drivers took about twice as long to react as they did when
they weren't texting," said Christine Yager, who headed the study. "Eye contact
to the roadway also decreased, no matter which texting method was used."
How the research was done
The research involved 43 participants driving along a test track without any
electronic devices present. The same participants then drove while texting and
again while using a speech-to-text device.
Yager said speech-to-text actually took longer than traditional texting, due
to the need to correct errors in the electronic transcription.
"You're still using your mind to try to think of what you're trying to say,
and that by proxy causes some driving impairment, and that decreases your
response time," Yager said.
The biggest concern is that the driver felt safer while using voice-to-text
applications instead of traditional texting, even though driving performance was
equally affected, she said.
This may lead to a false belief that texting while driving using spoken
commands is safe when in reality it is not, Yager said.
The Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association says 6.1 billion text
messages per day were sent in the United States in 2012. Some 35% of drivers
admit to reading a text or email while driving in any given month, while 26%
admitted to typing one, according to data from AAA, a national drivers'
"Every day, new technologies come out, and it is important to educate the
public that even these seemingly new distractions are still distractions, and it
will help people be safer when they get into the vehicle," Yager said.