Siri or Vlingo while driving not as safe as texting, says researchers
Apr 23, 2013 6:34 PM –
A recent study suggests that using voice-to-text apps like popular Siri and Vlingo are not as safe as manually texting while driving. Conducted on a closed course of 43 participants, the survey concluded that reaction times whether manually texting or voice texting yielded response times nearly twice as slow; yet respondents felt safer performing the latter. The study was sponsored by the Southwest Region University Transportation Center and conducted by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) as apart of the National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. We all know it’s unsafe and is apart of an ever growing problem, just last month AT&T conducted an independent survey that revealed nearly half of commuters have a “habit” of texting while driving, even higher than teens. ABC’s World News with Diane Sawyer reached out to us for comment and I responded…
“The study raises alarm as I personally recommend voice-to-text alternatives as it infers to be safer than encouraging manual texting while driving. Although some of the parameters of the study are unclear, such as the level of familiarity participants had with the voice-to-text apps and even devices used- I feel those variables might yield different results. The study amplifies a valid point, that being the level of distraction in my opinion is comparable to talking on a phone while driving; as your cognitive awareness may be slightly distracted when tasked with specific voice commands to get the apps to work as designed. I agree with a few points of the study that voice-to-text feels safer than manual texting as this is mainly supported by more eye time on the road. Though I don’t think these are the ultimate solutions, I do strongly feel they are a step in the right direction.”
– Antonio Wells, Chief Editor & Mobile Apps Expert of AndroidTapp.com
I’m personally intrigued by the study and awaiting more analysis, furthermore, will it extend to auto-maker voice solutions like Ford Sync- which is being praised currently as a safer alternative to driver distraction. I reached out to Nuance, Vlingo was recently acquired by the company, and they provided the following statement regarding the study…
“Nuance did not participate in the Texas A&M study, and is reviewing the methodology and results. However, our initial reaction to the study, while it appears statistically sound, is that it nonetheless confirms what we already know. Anything that takes your hands off the wheel and eyes off the road — whether it’s a phone, a map or cup of coffee — poses a distraction with potentially dangerous consequences. It’s why Nuance invests heavily in research and innovation, and today works with most leading car and smartphone manufacturers to minimize visual and manual driver distraction by integrating voice technology directly into a driving experience. From maps and music to phones and messaging, it is critical the industry collaborate to find a safer, smarter way.”
Apple has not responded to our request for comment on the study. Finally, there are many arguments here but the bottom-line I do agree with is a quote directly from the study…
However, it was clear that driving performance suffered in any of the texting conditions compared to the baseline condition, which means that texting is not an activity that should be coupled with driving.
Key Findings from the Study:
- Driver response times were significantly delayed no matter which texting method was used. In each case, drivers took about twice as long to react as they did when they weren’t texting. With slower reaction times, drivers are less able to take action in response to sudden roadway hazards, such as a swerving vehicle or a pedestrian in the street.
- The amount of time that drivers spent looking at the roadway ahead was significantly less when they were texting, no matter which texting method was used.
- For most tasks, manual texting required slightly less time than the voice-to-text method, but driver performance was roughly the same with both.
- Drivers felt less safe when they were texting, but felt safer when using a voice-to-text application than when texting manually, even though driving performance suffered equally with both methods.
Another TTI study now underway is examining the motivations and attitudes of distracted drivers. Results from the focus groups and a 3,000-driver survey are expected in late summer, and will include a look at which demographic groups are most affected by the distracted driving issue.
Special thanks to ABC crew of World News with Diane Sawyer.