Voice-To-Text No Safer Than Texting While Driving, Study Says

Texting while driving has been reported to be worse than driving drunk, leading phone and car manufacturers to devise voice-to-text as a safer alternative than poking at a phone when your eyes should be on the road. The problem? Voice-to-text isn’t any safer than texting. Turns out it’s actually worse.

A study released Tuesday suggests that both texting and relying on voice-to-text result in significantly delayed driver response times.

The study was performed by the Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M University. It is the first to compare the two forms of texting in a driving environment.The study involved 43 participants driving along a test track. Each drove once without electronic distractions, again while texting, and then while using voice-to-text.

“In each case, drivers took about twice as long to react as they did when they weren’t texting,” Christine Yager, who lead the study, told Reuters. “Eye contact to the roadway also decreased, no matter which texting method was used.”

Voice-to-text actually took even longer than traditional texting since drivers had to spend additional time correcting errors in the electronic transcription. This forms a bad situation when combined with the false sense of security that voice-to-text gives. Drivers feel they’re being responsible and therefore safer using voice-to-text than traditional texting.

“It is important to educate the public that even these seemingly new distractions are still distractions, and it will help people be safer when they get into the vehicle,” Yager said.

AAA has found that over a third of drivers admit to reading a text or email while driving and a fourth admit to typing one. As smartphone adoption continues to rise, more people find themselves tempted to engage with their device while on the road. Unfortunately whether you’re using voice-to-text or your fingers while driving, you’re making the road an even less safe place to be.

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