If you are voice texting while driving to get around the risks of thumbing your messages when your hands are supposed to be on the wheel, you may be putting yourself at equal risk of an accident, according to a new study out of Texas.
The study, sponsored by Southwest Region University Transportation Center and conducted by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, found voice applications on smartphones or other devices offer no real safety advantages over manual texting.
Researchers say it's the first study of its kind to analyze reactions using handheld devices instead of voice-activation systems installed in vehicles.
Here's how the researchers conducted the study with 43 drivers on a closed course:
Drivers first navigated the course without any use of cell phones. Each driver then traveled the course three more times performing a series of texting exercises – once using each of two voice-to-text applications (Siri for the iPhone and Vlingo for Android), and once texting manually. Researchers then measured the time it took each driver to complete the tasks, and also noted how long it took for the drivers to respond to a light which came on at random intervals during the exercises.
And here are the findings:
* Driver response times were significantly delayed no matter which texting method was used.
* 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.
Studies show drivers who are texting are 23 times more likely to crash. A driver’s eyes are off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds each time they send or receive a text, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Do the Texas results make you want to just stop texting altogether when you get behind the wheel?
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