Follow-up Study on Cognitive Distraction Focuses on Voice-Based Vehicle Systems

The American Automobile Association’s Foundation for Traffic Safety conducted a test in 2013 that measured how a set of mentally distracting activities affected individuals while driving. The researchers identified interacting with a voice-based program as the greatest cognitive distraction of the tasks measured. However, the program used did not specifically correlate to actual systems available on the market. A follow-up test was designed to measure the level of distraction created by specific speech-to-text technologies.

In 2014, researchers conducted a study to determine the distraction levels based on seven common systems currently used in vehicles. A Chicago car accident lawyer finds the results important based on the prevalence of voice-based systems that come standard in new automobiles.

Speech-to-text technologies differ

One of the primary findings revealed by this study was the differences between seven speech-to-text systems. Like the prior research, the new study shows that most interactions with programs that rely on voice commands pull more mental focus away from the road than a basic conversation.

In some cases, this difference is minimal, and researchers discovered the distraction levels were much lower than in those reported in the previous research. In others, using the technology was nearly as distracting as the most complex cognitive functions measured, which involved completing math tasks while driving. A Chicago car accident lawyer knows that the duration of the interaction affects the level of distraction the most. Interactions that required less verbosity and more concise commands were significantly less distracting. Another major factor in how long each task took was how many errors arose during the task.

Complexity determines distraction level

The Foundation for Traffic Safety study effectively demonstrates that not all speech-to-text systems are the same. The complexity of a program often leads to more errors and greater distraction, even when the commands are concise. Systems that are easier to manipulate require less attention and are less likely to cause accidents, injuries and fatalities. In future tests, researchers expect to measure the correlation between the length of a dialogue task and the accurate interpretation of speech commands, as well as the difficulty of mastering the dialogue requirements, since these directly affected the level of focus in this test.

The safety of these systems is not consistent and often relies on the responsibility and ability of the user. An individual who suffers from a collision caused by a distracted driver should contact a Chicago car accident lawyer who can provide legal advice on the best way to proceed. Compensation may be available from multiple sources if the voice-based technology is not designed well or causes greater distractions for the driver.