AAA Poll Says New Jersey Drivers Believe So – Yet Research Says Otherwise

Mental distraction can last up to 27 seconds after using voice commands.

Hamilton, NJ - In a recent survey of New Jersey drivers conducted by AAA Mid-Atlantic, 57 percent of those surveyed said they believe voice-activated technology in the car is less distracting than a hand held cellphone. However, a study published by AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, recently showed that when drivers attempted to use in-vehicle technology to make a call or create and send a text, in certain circumstances, their distraction lasted about half a minute.  AAA Mid-Atlantic’s survey showed New Jersey drivers are unaware of just how long the technology hangover can last, impacting their driving behaviors and the safety of others on the road.

“Even though drivers are using hands-free technology to perform tasks, they are still distracted to the point where driving becomes dangerous,” says Tracy Noble, spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic.  “The reality is that mental distractions can affect driver attention far longer than they realize and that motorists could miss stop signs, pedestrians and other vehicles while the mind is readjusting to the task of driving.”

AAA Survey of New Jersey Drivers

AAA Mid-Atlantic recently conducted a telephone survey of 655 New Jersey motorists asking about their driving habits.

“One of the most surprising results was that a near unanimous number of New Jersey respondents (94%) said they believe other drivers are very or somewhat distracted when using either a hand-held phone or a hands-free device to talk or text,” says Noble. “Even so, 28 percent admitted using a hand-held device although it is against New Jersey law, while 50 percent admitted using a hands-free device to make a call.”

Additionally:

  • 94 percent thought other drivers were very or somewhat distracted while using either a hand held or hands-free device
  • 69 percent DON’T use hand held phone
  • 68 percent believe that distraction only lasts for 10 seconds. However, the recent AAA Foundation study proved that driver distraction could last for up to 27 seconds. 
  • 28 percent have used hand held phone in last six months even though New Jersey law bans the use of hand held devices while driving.
  • 50 percent have used hands-free cell phone to make calls in the last six months
  • 57 percent think voice activated technology is less distracting than hand held cell phone use
  • 38 percent reported using voice-activated technology

Although driving distracted is a behavior most notably associated with young people, everyone is at risk if a driver can’t focus on the road.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2013 more than 3,000 people have died in car accidents that involved a distracted driver.  

As technology advances, in-vehicle systems may get better and easier to use, however until that time, everyone should eliminate distractions while driving.

“Engineers should aim to reduce mental distractions by designing systems that are no more demanding than listening to the radio or an audiobook,” continued Noble. “AAA advises consumers to use caution when interacting with these technologies while behind the wheel.”

The survey has a margin of error of +/- 4 percent.