AAA study: Brain can’t text while driving even with hands free; Apple’s Siri Eyes Free not evaluated

“Using voice-to-text messaging, included in systems such as Ford Motor Co.’s Sync and Toyota Motor Corp.’s Entune, is more distracting to drivers than making calls with handheld mobile phones, a study by AAA found,” Angela Greiling Keane reports for Bloomberg News.

“Texting a friend verbally while behind the wheel caused a ‘large’ amount of mental distraction compared with ‘moderate/significant’ for holding a phone conversation or talking with a passenger and ‘small’ when listening to music or an audio book, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found in a report released today,” Keane reports. “Automakers have promoted voice-based messaging as a safer alternative to taking hands off the wheel to place a call and talk on a handheld phone. About 9 million infotainment systems will be shipped this year in cars sold worldwide, with that number projected to rise to more than 62 million by 2018, according to a March report by London-based ABI Research.”

Keane reports, “The study used drivers, mostly in their 20s and 30s, to do things including listening to a radio and talking on a handheld phone. Participants, all of whom had good driving records, did the tasks first in a lab, then in a driving simulator and finally in a residential area while driving. Researchers measured reaction time and brainwave activity with caps secured to drivers’ heads to see what was the most distracting.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: They need to test Siri Eyes Free, properly implemented, since that is the system a large number of drivers will be using. They also need to test drivers who’ve used the system for more than 15 minutes. Until then: Pfft. And, of course, Ford’s Sync, developed by Microsoft, is going to suck at hands free communication – it sucks at everything!

Related articles:
Ford plummets to 27th in J.D. Power vehicle quality rankings on Microsoft-developed ‘MyFord Touch’ woes – June 20, 2012
Microsoft’s confusing, buggy Sync sinks Ford’s J.D. Power quality ratings – June 23, 2011

Flawed distracted driving study fails to evaluate Apple’s Siri Eyes Free – May 1, 2013
Apple working with vehicle makers to deeply embed iOS 7 Maps and Siri services, sources say – April 30, 2013
Apple expands its automotive push, seeks to grow its iOS vehicle integration team – March 6, 2013
General Motors’ Chevrolet Sonic, Spark first to offer iPhone, iPad, iPod touch users Siri Eyes Free integration – February 14, 2013
Honda and Acura to deliver Apple’s Siri Eyes Free on select 2013 vehicles – January 30, 2013
Hyundai becomes 10th vehicle maker to integrate Apple’s Siri ‘Eyes Free’ tech – January 7, 2013
GM to integrate Apple’s ‘Eyes Free’ Siri technology starting with Chevy Sonic, Spark – June 19, 2012
Harman CEO on Apple for Automotive: ‘Apple is a partner, not an adversary’ – June 13, 2012
Nine auto makers partner with Apple for ‘Eyes Free’ Siri integration – June 12, 2012
Mercedes-Benz integrates Apple’s Siri personal assistant into its vehicles – February 28, 2012


  1. Make that ‘brain can’t verbally text while driving around cones with cameras watching and wires stuck all over your head’ to have a better idea of how the study was conducted (and most likely got the results they were aiming for).

    1. If we cannot talk to Siri while driving……. How in the H*ll can we be allowed to talk to another person in the car???????

      Sorry but lately, we are getting very weird people making weird statements about weird tests they have preformed…

      Just……. weird…… LOL

    1. Yeah, and while your at it, don’t drink, eat, put on makeup, touch your radio, or even talk to any passengers or screaming rug rats in the back. Face it, some people have the ability to drive distracted, some don’t. Lumping everyone together is stupid.

      1. Some things require more attention than others. Texting and putting on makeup are about the same. But thinking that you’re one of the special ones who can text and drive is no different than everyone who claims they drive well (or better) when drunk. Sorry, but the science doesn’t back you up. And I’m not talking about the AAA study. Many other studies have been done regarding distraction.

      2. So, tron, you’re special, just like everybody else?

        Like it or not the roadways _DO_ group everyone together, and thus everyone needs to follow consistent rules.

        Banning cell phone use altogether in automobiles would be a reasonable step in the right direction, because there is no study of any kind that shows ANYONE is alert and responsive behind the wheel when using electronic gadgets.

        All the other factors you listed don’t change this reality. The law cannot reasonably control rugrats. But it can fundamentally improve safety in other ways, #1 being alcohol/drug control and #2 being cell phones. But yes, automakers should be banned from adding increasing other distractions to their bloated cars. There isn’t a digital screen in a car that doesn’t hinder driver safety as the driver tunnels through menu after menu in a vain attempt to find whatever control he needs.

        All digital devices should go blank as soon as the vehicle is in motion.

    2. Cool, but remember that siri is NOT texting, its talking…

      Did you intend that we not talk in the car? Perhaps we need to not allow passengers???? HEY, Motorcycles for all!!!!

      Way to go. Make mine a Harley. LOL

  2. I use Siri right now to text and email when I am in the car. Works pretty darn well, using a Jawbone bluetooth. I only do it for urgent stuff, so quite rarely. I prefer to focus on driving… especially around the NY metro area.

  3. As a proud Ford Fusion owner, I can tell you that Microsoft’s Sync is yet epitome of unintuitive oral interface, requiring the user to be distracted back to the viewing screen. It truly is crap!

  4. I don’t understand why people feel the need to text while driving. How many URGENT messages have you ever gotten in your life that required an immediate answer? If its urgent make a call. People are so plugged in that they just jump at the first sign of a communication.

    I don’t answer the phone when I’m busy with other things. Like sleeping. Or working. Or spending time with my girlfriend. If there’s an emergency they’ll either leave a message or keep calling back until you answer. Funny hoe the message always gets through.

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