If you own a newer car or smartphone you are likely aware that speech-to-text technology exists.
The 2013 Ford Focus ST has technology that will read incoming texts from a connected phone and translate commonly used abbreviations. You also can respond with a set of up to 15 preset outgoing messages.
These options may get your cell phone out of your hand while driving, but according to a new study, they are more distracting than old-fashioned texting while driving.
A study commissioned by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that voice-activated in-car technologies can be even more dangerous than hands-free or handheld devices.
“Mental distractions are being built into cars,” said Edmond resident Chuck Mai, spokesman for AAA Oklahoma. “As a leader in driver safety, AAA believes this is creating a looming public safety crisis.”
The study involved drivers ranging from 18-36 engaged in six common tasks from talking on the phone to responding to voice-activated email. Their brainwaves, eye movement, reaction time and other metrics were evaluated by researchers from the University of Utah.
The information was used to rate levels of mental distraction:
• Category 1 includes tasks with minimal risk, such as listening to the radio;
• Category 2 includes tasks with moderate risk. This includes talking on a cell-phone, either handheld or hands-free; and
• Category 3 includes tasks with extensive risk. This includes listening and responding to in-vehicle, voice-activated email features.
Garry Thomas, director of the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office, said any type of distraction when you’re behind the wheel can be deadly, as this study shows.
“We all think we can multi-task safely because we attempt it frequently in our jobs and at home, but driving is not an activity that can be combined with other tasks,” Thomas said. “Driving requires full cognitive, visual and manual skills.”
Thomas said his organization urges all drivers to turn off their cell phones and other electronic devices while driving.
“No text or call is worth risking your life and others’ lives,” Thomas said. “If you must make a call, we recommend pulling off the road and stopping in a safe spot, out of traffic.”
In Edmond, cell phone use is handled as a failure to devote full-time attention to driving offense.
AAA will continue legislative efforts in 2014, Mai said. During the most recent session, no texting-related bills were passed, he said.
AAA’s study comes on the heels of a similar study sponsored by the Southwest Region University Transportation Center and conducted by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute. It was the first study to compare voice-to-text and manual texting on a handheld device in an actual driving environment. The results were released earlier this year.
It compared the performance of 43 research participants who navigated a closed course without any use of cell phones, once using voice-to-text apps for iPhone and Android and once texting manually.
Researchers measured the time it took each driver to complete the tasks, and also noted how long it took for the drivers to respond to a light that came on at random intervals during the exercises. They found:
• In each case, drivers took about twice as long to react as they did when they weren’t texting. With slower reaction times, drivers are less able to take action in response to sudden roadway hazards, such as a swerving vehicle or a pedestrian in the street.
• The amount of time that drivers spent looking at the roadway ahead was significantly less when they were texting, no matter which texting method was used.
• For most tasks, manual texting required slightly less time than the voice-to-text method, but driver performance was roughly the same with both.
Christine Yager, a TTI associate transportation researcher who managed the study, said the findings offer new insight, but only a part of the knowledge that’s needed to improve roadway safety.
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If you own a newer car or smartphone you are likely aware that speech-to-text technology exists.
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Touchmark residents give ‘thumbs up’ to new YMCA
Senior citizens from Touchmark bundled up, braved the cold and the icy roads this week and traveled to the Edmond YMCA Recreation & Aquatic Center at Mitch Park on Covell.
The tour group was one of more than 100 that have been guided through the new facility to show what will be available when it is finished. This $22.5 million facility is a joint project with the the Edmond School District, the City of Edmond and the YMCA.
Joining the group and donning hard hats were Touchmark residents Ellie Lottinville, Judith Harris, Jimmie Cook, John Wayant and Richard Newville along with Carla Scull, Touchmark’s director of life enrichment, and Jesse Walls, driver.
Guthrie-Edmond airport looks to upgrade
The Guthrie-Edmond Regional Airport board was told Tuesday by officials from the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission that GERA is in good shape but work needs to continue to help maximize everything the airport has to offer.
The board was given a presentation by OAC director Vic Bird and Dale Williams, OAC planning division manager about the state of the aviation industry in Oklahoma and how airports the size of GERA are faring.
AAA: Teens report ‘TWD’ significantly less than adults
High school-aged teens report using their phones or texting while driving substantially less often than adults do, according to new research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
While the public often cites teens as being the most common offenders, a recent survey found that adult drivers ages 25-39 were the most likely to admit engaging in these risky behaviors behind the wheel.
Peter Kissinger, president and CEO of AAA’s Foundation for Traffic Safety, said young novice drivers, who are especially susceptible to distracted driving crashes, are using their phones while driving less than older drivers.
AAA to offer free Tipsy Tow rides
Before climbing behind the wheel after drinking at a holiday party, AAA Oklahoma hopes you’ll think again and call them for a free Tipsy Tow ride home for you, your vehicle and one more person.
“Over Christmas and New Year’s, up to 40 percent of all traffic crashes involve alcohol,” said Edmond resident Chuck Mai, spokesman for AAA Oklahoma. “But motorists do have options: Use a designated driver, serve non-alcoholic mocktails at parties or call AAA for a Tipsy Tow.”
Paycom plans HoliDazzle event to benefit Warmth 4 Winter Coat Drive
Paycom has teamed with News Channel 4, The Salvation Army and Rotary Club of South Oklahoma City to host HoliDazzle, a free event at Remington Park on Thursday to kick-off the annual Warmth 4 Winter coat drive.
Parents and children are encouraged to bring a new or gently used coat from 3:30-7:30 p.m. to help ensure that every child and adult stays warm during Oklahoma’s harsh winter months. Those who contribute are encouraged to enjoy an afternoon of holiday fun with train rides, pictures with Santa, hot cocoa and cookies.
Lilyfield reschedules ‘Dunks for Diapers’
Lilyfield Christian Adoption and Foster Care has rescheduled its Dunks for Diapers event.
Lilyfield holds a diaper drive with the Oklahoma Christian University Women’s basketball team to benefit foster children. Anyone bringing diapers, wipes or new baby items for ages 0-24 months will gain free admission to the women’s game versus Lubbock Christian University, which will begin at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Eagles’ Nest on the campus of Oklahoma Christian in Edmond.
“This will allow us to give foster families much-needed necessities when they receive placement of a foster child. Often placements happen with little notice and the child may come into a foster home with nothing but the clothes they are wearing,” said Holly Towers, executive director of Lilyfield Christian Adoption and Foster Care.
Twitter reacts to Time's Person of the Year
Time has announced its Person of the Year for 2013: Pope Francis. The announcement, seen live on the "Today" show Wednesday, generated immediate reaction on Twitter. Here is a sampling.
Cold impacts Edmond businesses, city services
Roger Seaton is operating manager of Edmond Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing, 3104 South Kelly Ave., owned by the Seaton family since 1970.
On Tuesday, for the first time in days, the temperature in the Edmond area rose above 32 degrees. At 2:53 p.m. Tuesday, the temperature was 41 degrees at the Guthrie-Edmond Regional Airport, surpassing the predicted high of 34, according to the National Weather Service.
Seaton’s business offers plumbing services including water line work and repairs to faucets in the kitchen and bathroom. When it comes to plumbing calls, pipes that burst are a priority, Seaton said. It takes a while for pipes to freeze, he said, and residents began calling by Friday. Calls during the cold spell were both about frozen pipes and pipes that had burst.
If you have no water coming out of a faucet, shut off the water upstream and open cabinet doors to get warmer air circulating around pipes, Seaton said.
School back in session Wednesday
Parents are heaving a sign of relief while some students aren’t going to be quite as happy.
“All classes and activities will resume Wednesday in Edmond Public Schools,” said Susan Parks-Schlepp, director of public information and community involvement. “Slick spots remain and buses may be running a bit late but secondary roads are in much better shape after significant thawing.”
As reported earlier, students will not be making up the four snow days taken off from school this past week.
Kelly widening project progressing
Work progresses smoothly for the Kelly widening project, City Manager Larry Stevens said before the City Council this week. Road work began in July about 1,000 feet north of Covell and continues north to a point 350 feet south of Coffee Creek.
Duit Construction/TTK Construction is in charge of constructing a four-lane divided roadway with left turn lanes at all public streets along the project on Kelly going from Covell to Coffee Creek.
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