AAA: Hidden dangers in hands-free devices

LAKELAND, FL (WFLA) – You probably consider it safe driving if your eyes are on the road and your hands are on the wheel.  But a new study by AAA reveals that’s not the case if you’re using hands-free technology.

We know texting and driving is dangerous. That’s why many of people opt to use the voice activation features in our car.  But new research shows those aren’t entirely safe either. For up to 27 seconds after a voice command, drivers could be mentally distracted.

According to a study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety- there are hidden dangers in what many of us consider the safe route.

The study, which was conducted by Dr. David Strayer and Dr. Joel Cooper of the University of Utah, recorded the in-car technology use of on more than 250 drivers between 21 and 70 years old.

“Older drivers experienced a higher level of cognitive distraction using the technology and stated the interactions were more complex,” John Pecchio, AAA Traffic Safety Manager, said.

“The lasting effects of mental distraction pose a hidden and pervasive danger that would likely come as a surprise to most drivers,” said Peter Kissinger, President and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “The results indicate that motorists could miss stop signs, pedestrians and other vehicles while the mind is readjusting to the task of driving.”

Marco Lashin is decades into teaching driver safety courses at Atlantic Driving School in Winter Haven.

He’s seen the distractions pile up inside the car and agrees, although your hands may be behind the wheel, when using voice to text- your mind is not.

“We like to think we are multi-tasking gurus and we’re not, unfortunately,” Pecchio said. “That amount of mental effort [using voice technology], which may not seem like very much, distracts from the task at hand, which is driving,” Pecchio said.

The study tested the distraction level of 13 voice activation systems.  It found the one in the Chevy Equinox to be the least distracting and the Mazda 6 system to the most distracting. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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