The New York Times recently reported about new devices being installed into cars, which allows drivers to put their phones down when on the road.
In 2008, 918,000 hands-free systems were installed in cars, according to the Consumer Electronics Association. By the end of 2009, the industry group estimates, that figure will climb to 1.6 million systems. In many cases, hands-free kits are packaged with other options that together cost around $1,000. “We are trying to take what people are doing and make it safer,” said Doug VanDagens, the director of Ford’s Sync project. “Voice provides the safest options and keeps the driver’s eyes on the road.”
Manufacturers of such systems argue that their products make driving safer. As proof, they point to a Virgina TechTransportation Institute study published this summer that concluded that hands-free conversations were only a minor distraction to drivers.
But not everyone agrees that this technology is the safest option.
Studies from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, for example, show that drivers are four times more likely to have a car accident if they are talking on the phone — hands-free or not — while driving.
The reason, researchers say, is that drivers often become engrossed in their conversation, rather than focusing on driving, even if their hands are on the wheel. “Once a conversation begins, we don’t see a difference between hand-held and hands-free,” says Adrian Lund, president of the institute.
To read the entire story, click here.
I have written in the past about the dangers of talking on cell phones and texting while driving. The new technology being introduced is a positive sign that car companies are looking to make the roads safer for everyone. I look forward to seeing the introduction of new technology in the coming months.