Voice-to-Text As Dangerous to Drivers as Texting

A driver's eye contact with the road decreases and response times are significantly delayed.

If you wear your phone's headset while driving to send voice-activated text messages, you may be putting yourself and other drivers in danger. A new study from researchers at the Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M University found that sending text messages via voice while driving is just as dangerous as texting with fingers.

About 35 percent of drivers admit to reading a text or email while driving and 26 percent admit to typing one, according to data from AAA, a national drivers' organization.

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The team, lead by Christine Yager, compared voice-to-text and traditional texting on a handheld device in an actual driving environment. They asked 43 participants to first drive along a test track without any electronic devices present and then repeat the drive while texting and then finally send text messages while using a speech-to-text device.

While texting, whether with fingers or by voice, a driver's eye contact with the road decreased and the response times was significantly delayed. According to Yager, drivers took about twice as long to react as they did when they weren't texting.

And it may not come as a surprise to people who have used voice-activated texting that sending a message via speech actually took longer than traditional texting because of the need to correct errors in the transcription.

But even though texting via speech was just as distracting as texting by fingers, drivers felt like they were safer and that is a big concern.

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Yager told Reuters that drivers may have a false belief that speaking a text is more safe than typing it, when in reality it is not.

The message is that if you want to be safe while driving, don't look at your phone until you've reached your destination.

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