“Shut Up and Drive” – Voice Activitated Text Message Devices in Vehicles

While on opposite ends of the music spectrum, Chely Wright and Rihanna were in tune on some good advice: shut up and drive. While the dangers of texting and driving are well known, drivers still do it. So, the automakers are now rolling out vehicles that allow a driver to use their voice, rather than their fingers, to send text messages. The system is similar to Siri on a i-Phone, but it is actually part of the vehicle’s electronic system. Ford and Toyota already have such systems in some vehicles. And while intuitively the idea seems like a good one for reducing distracted driving, studies show it is not an improvement at all. According to the AAA, hand-free voice messaging causes a “large” amount of mental distraction. In addition, Texas A & M Transportation Institute has found hands-free texting was just as distracting as a driver who actually uses his hands to text. Both methods slowed driver’s reaction times to almost two times that of a non-distracted driver. Without question, distracted driving is dangerous. And so, the best and safest advice remains to simply shut up and drive. Coming from someone who remembers the days of finding a pay phone if you wanted to talk to someone while out on the roads, pull over if your text message can’t wait until you reach your destination. You might just save your life or someone else’s.