The idea is to find out if the driver involved in the accident was either texting or talking on the phone when the accident occurred.

Well, now there’s a new wrinkle, and while it’s not up for consideration as a law, it just might be in the near future.

There’s a report out saying that using voice commands to text while driving is more dangerous than talking on phone.

Not just texting, but doing just about anything that requires a voice command.

Why is that, you ask?

Well, according to one official with the AAA, your eyes may be on the road, but your mind is elsewhere.

Using voice commands to send text messages and emails from behind the wheel, which is marketed as a safer alternative for drivers, actually is more distracting and dangerous than simply talking on a cellphone, a new AAA study found.

Automakers have been trying to excite new-car buyers, especially younger ones, with dashboard infotainment systems that let drivers use voice commands do things like turning on windshield wipers, posting Facebook messages or ordering pizza. The pitch has been that hands-free devices are safer because they enable drivers to keep their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road.

But talking on a hands-free phone isn’t significantly safer for drivers than talking on a hand-held phone, and using hands-free devices that translate speech into text is the most distracting of all, researchers found.

Speech-to-text systems that enable drivers to send, scroll through, or delete email and text messages required greater concentration by drivers than other potentially distracting activities examined in the study like talking on the phone, talking to a passenger, listening to a book on tape or listening to the radio.

The greater the concentration required to perform a task, the more likely a driver is to develop what researchers call “tunnel vision” or “inattention blindness.”
Drivers will stop scanning the roadway or ignore their side and rearview mirrors. Instead, they look straight ahead, but fail to see what’s in front of them, like red lights and pedestrians.

“People aren’t seeing what they need to see to drive. That’s the scariest part to me,” said Peter Kissinger, president and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, the group’s safety research arm. “Police accident investigative reports are filled with comments like the ‘looked, but did not see.’ That’s what drivers tell them. We used to think they were lying, but now we know that’s actually true.”

There are about 9 million cars and trucks on the road with infotainment systems, and that will jump to about 62 million vehicles by 2018, AAA spokeswoman Yolanda Cade said, citing automotive industry research. At the same time, drivers tell the AAA they believe phones and other devices are safe to use behind the wheel if they are hands-free, she said.

“We believe there is a public safety crisis looming,” Cade said. “We hope this study will change some widely held misconceptions by motorists.”

AAA officials who briefed automakers, safety advocates and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on the study’s findings said they want to limit in-vehicle, voice-driven technologies to “core driving tasks.”

I’ll tell you this.

Generally I don’t have a problem with voice activation. I use it to call my mother to tell her I’m on my way to her house and to “throw the macaroni in” so that it’ll be ready for when we get there.

I just say, “call mom Terry," and I’m instantly communicating with mom while navigating the Outerbridge! There are some who may think this task of placing the phone call and navigating a busy highway at the same time is a daunting challenge!

Not just that, but sending a voice text, or telling the car to stand on its nose and spit nickels! (OK, the last one I made up!)

Do you think it's a daunting challenge?

Do you feel that voice activation in cars makes you a worse driver?