There have been numerous studies that have shown that distracted drivers can be as dangerous on the road as drunk drivers. Some recent studies have shown that texting while driving may actually be just as dangerous as driving intoxicated.
In an effort to reduce the distractions that drivers are confronted with while driving some stated have instituted hands free laws that require drivers to use hands free kits to make calls while driving. Ford has a system called Sync in some of its vehicles that offers all sorts of hands free technologies to make driving safer while still allowing drivers to stay in contact and listen to music from digital devices.
Ford commissioned a new study that has shown significant differences in how distracted drivers are when using its Sync system compared to not using it. For the study, Ford had drivers select a phone number or choose a song on their MP3 players using Sync compared to doing the same thing manually.
Drivers who did the tasks manually had their eyes off the road for about 25 seconds while drivers using Sync had their eyes off the road for approximately two seconds. Participants in the study were asked to dial ten-digit phone numbers, call a specific person form the digital phone book, receive a call while driving, play a specific song, and review and respond to text messages.
The time eyes were off the road was measured by the researchers for drivers using both methods. Ford says that drivers performing these tasks manually swerved out of their lane 30 percent of the time while Sync users never swerved out of their lane. Ford has also announced a new 911 Assist feature for Sync that can dial 911 post-crash automatically.
Dr. Louis Tijerina from Ford said in a statement, "These real-world results indicate that SYNC's voice-interface offers substantial advantages compared to using a handheld device to do the same task."
quote: There are limits to how much we can multi-task, and that combination of cellphone and driving exceeds the limits," says David Strayer, a University of Utah psychologist who has found that by many measures, drivers yakking on cellphones are more dangerous behind the wheel than those who are drunk, whether the conversation is carried on by handset or headset.
quote: For instance, in a 2005 Australian study published in the British Medical Journal, researchers interviewed, during a 27-month period, 456 hospitalized cellphone users who had each been involved in a crash. The scientists combed the drivers' call records to see how cellphone use affected their driving. Whether they talked hands-free or with a phone clasped to their ear, the result was the same: During calls, and for 10 minutes after their completion, a driver's likelihood of crashing shot up fourfold.
quote: Marcel Just, a neuroscientist at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, conducted brain imaging of 29 young adults to gauge the cognitive demands of simultaneously driving and listening. Lying in a functional magnetic resonance imaging machine, the subjects steered a simulated car down a winding road. On a second run, they steered the car while listening to general-knowledge statements and identifying them as true or false.The study, published in April in the journal Brain Research, found that subjects who were allowed to navigate undisturbed showed robust activity in the brain's parietal lobe, a region long associated with spatial sense, distance calculations and judgments that require a person to calculate his whereabouts in a broader physical environment. When the task of listening to the sentences was added, blood flowed to different parts of the brain generally involved in the processing of language. As those language areas came alive, activity in the parietal lobe declined by almost 40%.While engaged in the listening task, drivers simultaneously listening to sentences veered off the road and onto the shoulder almost 50% more often than those allowed to focus uniquely on driving. And all they had to do was steer the car forward: no cars veered into their lane, no children darted into the road, no construction site loomed up unexpectedly.