Texting while driving is risky and can cause serious traffic accidents. When texting, drivers need to put not only their attention but also their hand/mouth and eyes on the cell phone.
This distraction has become one of the major risk factors for car drivers. Unfortunately, this behavior is quite common, especially in young adults.
Recent surveys have shown that 74% – 91% college students text while driving, and that 50% do this weekly. Thus, the question becomes: if we cannot stop texting while driving, can we do it safely?
In a recent study published in Accident Analysis and Prevention, researchers tested if head-mounted speech-recognition devices like Google Glass could reduce distraction and improve driving safety.
They recruited 25 college students who had driven cars for more than 5 years. Each participant performed driving on a simulator and used a smartphone or Google Glass for texting tasks.
In the experiment, participants did texting in three ways, including hand-typing with a head-down smartphone, vocal interaction with a smartphone, and vocal interaction with Google Glass. Researcher also included drive-only and text-only conditions as baselines.
The result showed that texting via hand-typing led to the worst driving performance. Texting via vocal interaction with smartphone was slightly better, but still worse than drive-only.
Texting via Google Glass, however, led to better driving performance and was the closest to drive-only.
The improved driving performance in texting via Glass included higher brake response rate, shorter brake response time, smaller headway distance, and lower lane excursions.
Researchers suggest that all form of texting can impair driving performance compared to undistracted driving.
Nevertheless, Google Glass texting might be safer than a smartphone due to the use of head-mounted configuration and speech recognition technology.
Citation: He J, Choi W, McCarley JS, Chaparro BS, Wang C. (2015). Texting while driving using Google Glass™: Promising but not distraction-free. Accident Analysis and Prevention, 81: 218-29. doi: 10.1016/j.aap.2015.03.033.
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