Texting drivers may believe they’re being more careful when they use the voice-to-text method, but new research findings suggest that those applications offer no real safety advantage over manual texting.
The study was sponsored by the Southwest Region University Transportation Center (SWUTC) and conducted by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI). SWUTC is a part of the University Transportation Centers Program, which is a federally-funded program administered by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration.
The study is the first of its kind, as it is based on the performance of 43 research participants driving an actual vehicle on a closed course. Other research efforts have evaluated manual versus voice-activated tasks using devices installed in a vehicle, but the TTI analysis is the first to compare voice-to-text and manual texting on a handheld device in an actual driving environment.
Drivers first navigated the course without any use of cell phones. Each driver then traveled the course three more times performing a series of texting exercises – once using each of two voice-to-text applications (Siri® for the iPhone and Vlingo® for Android), and once texting manually. Researchers then measured the time it took each driver to complete the tasks, and also noted how long it took for the drivers to respond to a light which came on at random intervals during the exercises.