(NEW YORK) — Speech-to-text technology in cars, which enable drivers to use their smart phones and other devices while behind the wheel, is supposed to make driving safer. But a new study sponsored by the automobile group AAA shows that’s not the case.
While the technology allows drivers to keep their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel, researchers found that it caused more distractions than anything else they tested.
“The speech-to-text condition that we evaluated was more mentally demanding than talking on a cellphone, than listening to the radio, than listening to a book on tape and speaking with a passenger. It was more mentally demanding than all of those,” said Joel Cooper, who, along with his team at the University of Utah, conducted the research.
Cooper noted that when your brain is overloaded with speech-to-text tasks, “you have very little residual capacity to attend to the roadway.”
“The bottom line is even if your hands are the wheel and your eyes are on the road, if your mind is elsewhere that could be a problem,” he said.
AAA says these speech-to-text systems currently exist in nine million cars, but that number is expected to grow dramatically in the next five years.
“By 2018 you’ll have 62 million of them. So the takeaway is, we have to have this conversation now because there really is a looming crisis on the horizon,” said Yolanda Cade of AAA.
She said that AAA would like to see limits put on the technoloy.
“We really do believe that this speech-to-text technology should only be able to be used or limited to use for drivers when the vehicle is stopped. So that is a recommendation that we’re making,” Cade said.
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