Two new studies on distracted driving released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and the University of Utah were covered by all three network evening newscasts, the AP and a few other news outlets. The research found that vehicle voice-activated infotainment systems may be adding to driver distraction. For its part, the CBS Evening News reported that the research “contradicts the belief that hands-free systems” in vehicles “are always safer than hands-on devices.” The report mentions that one of the studies includes “rankings to the voice systems sold by the major car manufacturers.”
Additionally, NBC Nightly News reported the research found that hands-free technology designed “to keep our hands on the wheel can actually take our mind off the road.” According to the report, AAA said the “least distracting system” is “Toyota’s Entune with a 1.7 ranking.” It added that the most distracting system is the “Chevy MyLink with a 3.7 ranking.”
Meanwhile, ABC World News reported the auto industry is arguing that the study doesn’t “link hands free systems to more accidents.”
The AP reports one of the studies analyzed infotainment systems “in some of the most common auto brands on the road: Chevrolet, Chrysler, Ford, Hyundai and Mercedes.” Meanwhile, the second study examined the iPhone’s Siri voice system to send texts, navigate, make social media posts and “use the calendar without handling or looking at the phone.” The report points out that the NHTSA is working on developing guidelines for voice-activated systems and mobile phones, noting that the guidelines are voluntary. After noting that vehicle infotainment systems are not regulated, Deborah Hersman, National Safety Council President and former NTSB Chairman, said, “It is like the Wild West, where the most critical safety feature in the vehicle — the driver — is being treated like a guinea pig in human trials.”
The Chicago Tribune reports any activity, which isn’t “directly related to driving…represents a potential distraction and safety risk, according to previous research by” several groups including, AAA, the NTSB, and the National Safety Council.
CBS News reports online that the studies “examined the level of distraction drivers face using hands-free or voice command features.”
Also covering the story in a similar manner as the sources above are USA Today, Consumer Reports, CBS News, the Los Angeles Times, NBC News, and The Car Connection.
From the news release of the American Association for Justice.