A new AAA study shows communication technology behind the wheel is distracting — even if it’s hands free.
The study looks at more than just cell phones, and tracked users brain waves and cognitive ability as they did various activities while driving, including: listen to the radio; converse with a passenger; talk on a hands-free cell phone; hold a cell phone while having a conversation; use voice-activated technology installed in the vehicle.
The study found the last activity to be distracting, said Valerie Vineyard, a spokeswoman for AAA Arizona.
"Voice-activated, in-car technologies are more dangerous than actually hands-free or handheld devices, so you’re actually adding to the level of distraction with this new technology," Vineyard said.
Researchers at the University of Utah conducted the study, and rated the level of distraction for each activity, Vineyard said.
The results also reinforced that hands-free cell phone use is about as distracting as when a driver is holding a cell phone while driving, she said.
AAA and the University of Utah is the first, in this study, to measure cognitive ability for drivers while using technology behind the wheel, she said.