Talking to Text – Harmless or Hindering for Drivers?
Last month we explored the idea of voice activation on mobile devices and found many smartphone and tablet owners use this feature for directions (55.2% regularly or occasionally ask for navigation help). I know I’ve done this while driving, speaking the name of the place I am looking for so I can get turn by turn instructions. I’ve also been guilty of talking to text while driving. With many states like Ohio looking to pass laws regulating the use of electronic devices while driving* (not just texting, which is already a no-no in 39 states), we wanted to know if Americans thought speaking to a device was any safer than using hands-on methods, or if voice commands were just as distracting.
The majority of Americans say it is slightly or much less dangerous to talk to a device instead of engaging in traditional hands-on activities while driving. However, 1 in 4 believes voice capabilities like talking to text bring with them the same amount of danger as talking with your fingertips:
While the different generations (Gen Y, Gen X, Boomers and Silent Generations) agree on the perceived level of danger, these age groups disagree on what specific mobile activities should be banned by law. The majority say hands on activities (texting, hands on phone calls, browsing the web, playing games, etc.) should be illegal, but older generations are most likely to also want to ban hands-free activities like talking to text. Those in Generations X and Y on the other hand, are less likely to be willing to give up talking to text, asking for directions or using other voice commands.
Perhaps members of Gen X and Gen Y are more accustomed to multitasking and technological gadgets in general while older generations are more likely to see these devices as potential distractions.
The late Ray Bradbury wrote in his novel Dandelion Wine:
Every time man and machine look like they will get on all right –boom! Someone adds a cog, airplanes drop bombs on us, cars run us off cliffs.
He may not have been able to predict how dangerous texting while driving can be (or playing Words with Friends—sadly, I’ve seen this), but he warned his readers 50+ years ago of the dangers and diversions technology can create.
*In Ohio, a law will soon take effect banning those under 18 from using ANY sort of handheld electronic device for ANYTHING. Drivers have to be pulled over first, so luckily adults like myself who look like highschoolers won’t be pulled over when making phone calls or checking a GPS :)
Source: American Pulse™ Survey, MAY-12 #2
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