December 06, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/
-- New cognitive study shows drivers' risk of hands-free devices
New cars today come with a long list of modern features that are designed to enhance a driver's experience. Some of these features include technology that enable drivers to send emails, make phone calls and even send text messages. However, there is some concern that all of this technology may be distracting to drivers in Phoenix and around the U.S., putting them at risk for getting into a car accident
According to the Arizona Department of Transportation, over 11,000 accidents in 2012 were attributed to driver distraction. While this equals only 5.69 percent of all collisions in the state, it is highly likely that there are many drivers who are unwilling to admit that they were distracted.
There is a lot of information out there about distraction but most of it has to do with manual and visual distraction. Distraction.gov quotes several studies but these studies primarily focus on distraction with hand-held devices and on texting. One study points out that using a headset instead of a hand-held phone is not much safer.
A new study is being called the "most comprehensive study of its kind" by USA Today. The study, held by the American Automobile Association's Foundation for Traffic Safety was conducted with the sole purpose of studying cognitive distraction
. It involved 150 participants, three different environments and looked at a number of distractive behaviors.
Creating a scale to measure cognitive distraction
One of the goals of the study was to create a scale that provided a way to measure how distracting each task was. In order to do this, the researchers first had a group of participants engage only in the task of driving. In this way, they were able to determine a base line by which to compare the other measurements.
Then participants were asked to engage in other behaviors, one at a time, as they performed the driving task while in a laboratory, a driving simulator and an instrumented vehicle. The six tasks included talking on a cell phone, listening to an audio book, using a voice-to-text technology and talking to a passenger.
The data gathered from the experiments conducted showed that the more complicated tasks caused a great deal of distraction cognitively for drivers, including technology that did not require a driver to touch it or take their eyes off of the road. The study's findings were:
-Braking time was slower.
-Visual cues to potential dangers were missed.
-Drivers visually scanned the environment around them less.
-Peripheral detection tests showed lower accuracy.
-The highest amount of cognitive distraction was caused by the hands-free technology.
While manufacturers are not likely to make changes in the amount of technology being featured in the new models, drivers should take this study as a warning that anything which takes a driver's mind off of the task of driving is potentially dangerous. When someone is injured because of a distracted driver they should talk to an attorney about seeking appropriate compensation.
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