Safety of hands-free technology questioned

WASHINGTON — Everyone knows about the dangers posed by drivers who choose
to use a phone or electronic device while behind the wheel.

But the general public is just starting to learn about the effectiveness of
some of the alternatives, including hands-free technology.

According to the Wall Street Journal, many of the major car companies are now
routinely installing built-in systems that allow drivers to simply say what
they want, whether they are trying to make a phone call or play music.

The car is supposed to respond to the driver’s command. But voice activation
isn’t always reliable.

“We really do have to look at statistical information to determine whether
the technology is any safer than people using a cell phone or texting device,”
former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood tells WTOP.

The Wall Street Journal reports voice activation
frequently misinterprets or doesn’t recognize what drivers say.

That can lead to even more distractions on the road as drivers try again and
again to make the devices work.

“We know technology can be very distracting,” says LaHood. “The best way to
drive safely is not to be distracted.”

The Wall Street Journal reports problems with these systems were the number
one complaint this year from people who have new cars.

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