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A safe way to talk in cars? Study says no such thing

NEW YORK – Nov. 4, 2015 – Real estate is a business on the go, and many Realtors rely on voice-activated, hands-free car systems that allow them to keep in touch with clients while on the road. But a newly released neuroscience study finds that voice-activated systems found in newer cars still pose safety issues.
The most complicated voice-activated systems can prompt drivers to take their mind off the road for up to 27 seconds after they stop interacting with the system; and less complex systems can leave drivers distracted for 15 seconds, according to the study that analyzed cognitive distraction in automobiles.
Driver distraction problems were often found with voice-activated systems from Apple, Google and Microsoft, the study found.
“The lasting effects of mental distraction pose a hidden and pervasive danger that would likely come as a surprise to most drivers,” says Peter Kissinger, chief executive of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, which funded the study.
Using voice-activated technology in a car requires the same type of brainpower as “balancing a checkbook while driving,” says David Strayer, a neuroscientist at the University of Utah and lead author of the study. “When you hang up, you have to figure out where you are, how fast you’re going, where other vehicles are.”
Automakers claim that voice-activated systems provide a safer alternative to using phones while on the road because drivers don’t have to remove their hands from the wheel. But safety advocates say that the features and apps used while driving are sending a misguided message: That voice-activated technology is safe and acceptable.
Strayer’s research compared the mental energy required by drivers for more than 10 different voice-activated systems. The study found the most distracting systems belonged to the Mazda 6, followed by Microsoft’s Cortana system, and cars from Hyundai, Chrysler, Nissan and Volkswagen.
The study also found that Apple’s Siri system created a “high distraction.”
Source: “Cars’ Voice-Activated Systems Distract Drivers, Study Finds,” The New York Times (Oct. 22, 2015)
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Source: Florida Realtors Feed

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