Technology and Driving Discretion
In-Car Electronics are becoming evermore popular, with about 9 million vehicles on the road already sporting them. According to AAA spokeswoman Yolanda Cade, that number will jump to around 62 million in the next four years.
Unfortunately, with this push to be hands-free, distractions may be on the rise. Research has shown that talking on a hands-free phone is not significantly safer than talking on a hand-held phone, and researchers are now asserting that hands-free devices that translate speech into text are even worse. A recent AAA study found that using voice commands to send texts and emails while driving is actually more distracting and dangerous than simply talking on a cell phone.
The danger of driving distracted does not just lie in the act of averting your eyes from the road and/or taking your hands off the wheel; a distracted brain can be undeniably lethal. “Tunnel vision,” when we fail to be fully alert of our surroundings, occurs when we concentrate on a task other than driving—like using speech-to-text systems.
The conclusion is simple: when you drive, focus on driving. Do not gamble with human life. There is a reason that these devices are not being marketed to surgeons or pilots, and installed in operating rooms and airplanes—there is an expectation inherent in the culture of professionalism that when your life is in someone else’s hands, they will give their undivided attention to keeping you safe. These same expectations should apply to driving because we all have many lives in our hands every time we get in our vehicles. We must change the culture of driving to one that is not hands-free, but distraction-free.