A new study from the Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M University found that using a voice-to-text feature such as Siri to send messages while driving is just as dangerous as texting. Researchers found that both methods significantly delayed a driver’s response time. The study involved 43 participants who were required to drive along a test track while concentrating only on driving, and then repeat the task once while texting and again time using a voice-to-text feature on a smartphone.
“In each case, drivers took about twice as long to react as they did when they weren’t texting,” head researcher Christine Yager said to Reuters. “Eye contact to the roadway also decreased, no matter which texting method was used.”
The researcher found that response times while using voice-to-text features were actually longer than traditional texting because users were forced to go back and correct spelling errors.
“You’re still using your mind to try to think of what you’re trying to say, and that by proxy causes some driving impairment, and that decreases your response time,” Yager said.
Even though driving performance wasn’t improved, participants felt safer using the voice-to-text feature. Yager warned, however, that drivers merely had false confidence and using applications like Siri aren’t any safer.
“Every day, new technologies come out, and 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,” she concluded.