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Report: Voice commands while driving can lead to more distractions

This March 6, 2014 image provided by AAA Foundation via DanCampbellPhotography.com shows a driver during the Cognitive Distraction Phase II testing in Salt Lake City. Two new studies have found that voice-activated smartphones and dashboard infotainment systems may be making the distracted-driving problem worse. (AP Photo/DanCampbellPhotographer.com via AAA Foundation)

PHOENIX — Sending a text, making a call or playing music via voice command is supposed to make things easier. But it might be leading to more distractions while driving.

A new report from AAA said it can take 27 seconds for a driver to refocus on the road after giving a voice command. While practice with the system reduced distraction, it did not eliminate it completely. The report said drivers 54 years and older experienced greater distraction from voice command systems compared to young- and middle-aged drivers.

“You could miss pedestrians, other vehicles, road hazards, you could miss a number of things in that nearly 30 seconds that it takes you to re-adjust,” said Michelle Donati of AAA Arizona.

Some vehicle voice-command systems provided for higher distraction than using a handheld smartphone. The report said voice-command systems in the Nissan Altima, Hyundai Sonata and Mazda 6 were found to be more distracting than placing calls or selecting music on a Google or Apple phone.

Donati said whatever you need to do can wait until you are done driving.

“No text, no email, no call is worth it when it comes to being involved in a collision that could potentially hurt or kill someone out there on the road,” she said.

Even if the voice command system is used at a red light while waiting at an intersection, Donati said there can still be lingering effects as the driver readjusts to the road.

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