1:05 pm
Wed June 12, 2013

Hands-Free Devices Still Pose Dangers for Drivers

A new study says hands-free technologies does not guarantee a safer commute.
Credit Governor's Office of Highway Safety
The number of vehicles with voice-to-text capabilities is expected to increase dramatically over the next few years. But, as WABE's John Lorinc reports, that could cause roadways throughout the nation to be less safe.

Being hands-free does not mean a driver is risk-free.    

That's the main message from a joint study conducted by AAA and the University of Utah.

Officials say using voice-activated items can still distract drivers from what's happening.

"Just because you think you have your hands on the wheel and you have your eyes on the road, that's not the safest way to drive," says Michele Harris, the director of Traffic Safety Culture for AAA.

Harris says listening to the radio is minor distraction for drivers, while talking to another person ranks as a moderate distraction.

The greatest risk, according to the data, was speech-to-text technologies, including voice-activated email features.

"The more you're thinking about other things, the more risk you're taking and putting yourself and your passengers in danger," says Atlanta-based driving instructor Dan Reilly.

Nationally, nine people die daily from accidents involving a distracted driver, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As for Georgia, the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety says distracted drivers were linked to more than 61-hundred crashes in the state last year.