Voice-activated technology may increase driver distraction in CA

Although voice-activated and hands-free cellular devices are legal to use in California, studies show that both are dangerous forms of driver distraction.


California has some of the strictest cellphone laws in the country. Not only does the state ban all drivers from texting and driving, California is one of fourteen states that prohibits drivers from talking on hand-held cellphones while driving, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. In an attempt to comply with state cellphone laws, many drivers use hands-free cellular devices and voice-activated technology in order to continue using their cellphones. Although both of these options are legal, studies show that they are a significant source of driver distraction, and may cause severe vehicle accidents.

Flaws in voice-activated technology

A recent study released by AAA shows that voice-activated cellular technology can create an increased mental distraction in drivers, especially when the technology is unreliable and inaccurate. During the study, researchers used test cars equipped with monitors to measure drivers’ heart rates and reaction times. The drivers were asked to engage in certain distractive behaviors, including listening to the radio, listening to their email using voice-activated technology and talking on a hands-free device, among other tasks.

Researchers found that when drivers tried to use voice-activated features that were complicated in nature and did not respond appropriately to drivers’ commands, their distraction rose considerably. The study found hope, however, that driver distraction and the risk of serious accidents could be reduced significantly if the technology was perfected and made easier to use.

Inattention blindness

The National Safety Council evaluated over 30 studies measuring the rate of cognitive distraction in drivers using hands-free cellular devices. Although these devices allow motorists to keep their hands on the steering wheel and eyes on the road while driving, they do require the driver to remove their mental focus off of the road.

Studies show that while drivers may believe they are successfully multitasking by talking on a hands-free device or using voice-activated technology when conducting their business, the human brain is unable to perform two complex activities at once. Rather than taking care of both tasks simultaneously, the brain will quickly switch focus between one task and the other. This leaves moments where the brain is not concentrating on driving. While the driver may be looking ahead, they are unable to take in approximately 60 percent of the information in their driving environment.

When to contact an attorney

When people make the choice to engage in dangerous behaviors while driving, they can cause serious car accidents resulting in severe injuries and even death. If you have been injured in a distracted driving car accident, an established attorney can help you get compensation for your ongoing medical expenses, emotional trauma, property damage and lost wages from time taken off of work.

Our lawyers at The Cartwright Law Firm have years of experience dealing with personal injury cases. Please call us today for a free case evaluation.