Siri is more distracting than texting while driving
Many companies are touting voice controls as a safer alternative to fumbling around with a touchscreen device. While it’s true that this technology makes it easier to keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel, a new study from AAA shows that, in the case of Apple’s Siri, voice controls are actually more distracting.
The study confirms what most people already suspected, that voice-activated functionality is distracting because it’s not only prone to annoying errors, but also increases cognitive load, and Apple’s Siri is one of the worst offenders.
AAA uses a distraction rating scale of 1 to 4, with 1 being as distracting as listening to the radio and 3 being as distracting as composing a text message. Toyota’s Entune system was the best of the test subjects with only a 1.7. Following this was Hyundai’s BlueLink (2.2), Chrysler’s Uconnect (2.7), MyFord Touch (3.0), Mercedes-Benz’s Comand (3.1), and Chevy’s MyLink (3.7). At the bottom of the list was Apple Siri, with a 4.15.
From the report: “The participant neither looked at nor made physical contact with the iPhone during these interactions. Even so, the workload ratings exceeded category 4 on our workload scale – the highest ratings that we have observed for any task short of OSPAN. Moreover, there were two crashes in the simulator study when participants used Siri (the only other crash we observed was when participants used the menu-based systems).”
David Strayer, the study leader and a psychology professor at the University of Utah, says that the point of this study wasn’t to show that these systems fail and that we should resort to using hands again, we just need to focus on the road.
“The primary task should be driving,” says Strayer. “Things that take your attention away make you a poor driver. Even though your car may be configured to support social media, texting and phone calls, it doesn’t mean it is safe to do so.”
Read more about the story at The Los Angeles Times.