The unanticipated dangers of voice-activated, in-car safety features

Monday, October 13th, 2014 at 2:00 pm    

More and more in-car safety features are becoming standard in cars and trucks sold in the United States. Billed as a way to mitigate the dangers inherent in the use of handheld devices, many of these in-car safety features allow drivers to verbally perform actions like answering their phones, controlling temperature settings, and even accessing navigation systems. The idea is this: hands-free devices will free drivers of their hand-held devices and allow them to better concentrate on the road.

As it turns out, new research shows, these in-car safety systems can be extremely distracting to drivers in their own right. As reported in the New York Times, Apple’s Siri can be particularly distracting to drivers when used to perform functions like sending and receiving texts messages, navigating, or using Twitter or Facebook.

What’s more, these systems don’t often work as the driver anticipates—for instance, you ask Siri to search for the nearest gas station and instead, it alters the car temperature. The point is, voice-activate in-car safety systems are currently prone to misinterpreting commands. To compensate for the inadequacies of these systems, drivers are often left trying again and again to activate the intended system, sometimes creating a dangerous distraction from the driving task at hand.

These systems appear to be here to stay though, especially as more and more cities and states continue to ban the use of handheld mobile devices while driving. Until all the quirks are worked out of these voice-activated systems, the legal team at The Willis Law Firm, believe it’s important that drivers remember the danger that distracted driving poses. You may have the power to check your social media every few minutes while you’re driving (Siri willing), but you certainly don’t have to.

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