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Voiced-based vehicle systems focus of new cognitive distraction study

Voiced-based vehicle systems focus of new cognitive distraction study

Preparing for a longhaul

Businesses with fleets to manage face some unique challenges. An Illinois transportation lawyer understands that for carrier companies the topmost priority is ensuring that drivers act appropriately while on the roads. In efforts to decrease the number of distracted truckers, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has issued regulations banning the use of hand-held cell phones for all interstate and hazardous material truckers.

Unfortunately, a multi-phase study performed by the American Automobile Association’s Foundation for Traffic Safety indicates that hands-free systems may be just as distracting as hand-held devices.

Details from the studies

One of the study’s phases measured the amount of cognitive or mental distraction that occurs when drivers use voice-based technologies instead of hand-held devices. Using three controlled experiments, researchers evaluated how well motorists could drive while issuing voice-based commands, while listening and responding to emails and texts, and interacting with a perfectly reliable menu-based system. A popular smart phone’s voice-command system was also included in the study. Researchers found that some of these voice-based interactions may contribute to distraction, especially when they do not work properly.

The next phase examined the mental distraction placed on drivers by the use of specific voice-based vehicle systems. Researchers tested six systems that were created by the nation’s most popular automakers in an effort to determine just how mentally taxing these systems could be. The AAA reports that while the level of distraction varied by each individual system, only two were found to be less distracting than using hand-held devices. Some required a much greater cognitive workload.


Carriers and their drivers could reduce the amount of loss that occurs by implementing strict rules regarding the use of any type of potentially distracting systems, including voice-based systems. When carriers discover that their drivers are disobeying these rules, strict consequences should be in place to dissuade other truckers from following suit. Additionally, heading off the problem by educating drivers on cognitive distraction and its effects may save both time and money in the future.

Today, few people are willing to completely unplug from the internet and instant communication. An Illinois transportation lawyer sees enough cargo loss cases to know that truckers are no exception. However, truckers’ ability to cause deadly accidents expands as their trucks and hauls increase. Knowing this, Trucking companies and their drivers have a moral and legal responsibility to reduce and eliminate every possible distraction so that the motorists around them stay safe and their cargo gets to its proper destination. Until that happens, truck accidents and lost cargo will continue to occur.

Businesses who need assistance following a trucking accident should contact an Illinois transportation lawyer immediately.

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