Talking to your phone when you're driving is as dangerous as texting, according to new research. Voice-to-text features like Apple's Siri and other apps may feel safer when you're behind the wheel, but can double your reaction time and lead to crashes.
The research from the Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M University suggests that using technology which converts your speech to text is as distracting as actually holding a phone.
The Texan textin' experts sent 43 people hurtling round a test track, once with full attention on the road, once with thumbs flying across their phone and once while gabbing hands-free.
Both texting and talking roughly doubled the driver's reaction time.
And even when using a phone's hands-free voice-to-text feature, drivers still spent less time looking at the road than they should, as the hands-free nature of the action lulled them into a false sense of security.
Not to mention the extra time required to go back and fix spelling mistakes because the voice-to-text feature didn't recognise yours peach property and recorded the wrong worms.
"New distractions are still distractions"
"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," chief researcher Christine Yager told Reuters. "Every day, new technologies come out, and it is important to educate the public that even these seemingly new distractions are still distractions."
In the US, the highways agency has issued new guidelines recommending that cars with built-in high-tech extras kill features like text messaging, video, and Web browsing unless the car is parked up.
Here in Britain, the Department for Transport's Think! campaign points out you're four times more likely to crash if you use a mobile phone while driving, and reminds us it's illegal to use a phone to call or text while driving.
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