A new study shows how the increase in availability of wearable technology is contributing to distracted driving, when drivers do not take precautions to deactivate or to remove the wearable device.
The research comes from the University of Texas at San Antonio, and it examines wearable technology and looks at whether this affects drivers’ concentration. The researchers found that while a driver who texts with a wearable device can marginally reduce their level of distraction (as opposed to trying to text on a smartphone while driving), the results continue to show that texting while driving using a wearable is just as dangerous compared with texting using an ordinary cell phone.
The new research was undertaken using Google Glass. Google Glass users are able to send text messages using voice transcription technology as well as head commands. While Google Glass is not suggested for commercial launch, the technology could make a come-back and other technology firms are reportedly developing equivalent products.
For the study, twenty volunteers used a driving simulation to text on a phone and on Google Glass to see if there was a safety difference. During the simulation, the subjects texted while driving on a smartphone and then with Google Glass. The simulation logged the deviations of the steering wheel and whether the subjects stayed in their lane.
Since the wearable device (Google Glass) responded quicker and used voice-activated controls, the test subjects using the simulator noticed the increased efficiency. However, they were also more likely to engage with the device, which negated the marginal safety difference between the smart phone and the wearable device.
The research concludes that the recent advances in wearable consumer technologies impose new challenges for managing driver attention and there is a need to regulate such device use in the driving context.