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Are Personal Assistants Helping to Reduce Distracted Driving?

Friday, October 21, 2016By Richard Alexander

Do you think that using a personal assistant for your device helps you avoid the dangers of distracted driving? Many people do, but the truth is that even hands-free operation is not safe. If you’re skeptical, keep reading.

Some vehicles come equipped with voice commands. Even when they do not, drivers often use personal assistants such as Siri and Cortana to make calls and execute searches. This keeps drivers from entering information manually on their devices while they drive.

It seems like this should help reduce the dangers inherent in distracted driving. After all, using a personal assistant does not require the manual entry of information.

Here’s the problem. To use personal assistants effectively, drivers must think about the proper commands and often must interact with the personal assistant until the task is carried out. The technical term for this brain use is “cognitive demand.”

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety conducted a study evaluating the use of three different personal assistants while driving. The conclusion? The use of a personal assistant placed a “moderate to high” cognitive workload on drivers. As a result, the Foundation recommended against indiscriminate use of voice-based systems while driving.

Yet another problem with using a personal assistant while driving was “residual switch costs.” The study found that even after drivers finished interacting with their personal assistants, they remained distracted for up to 18 seconds afterward.

In other words, even if we limit our use of personal assistants to times when we are stopped, such as in a parking lot or at a stop light, the danger may continue on the roadway.

The takeaway from the AAA study is clear: The safest course of action is to pull over to make calls. Limit the use of personal assistants when driving to times when absolutely necessary. The life you save may be your own.

If you have been injured in an accident, contact the San Francisco personal injury attorneys at Alexander Law Group, LLP right away at 888.777.1776. Delaying could harm your case.

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