What exactly causes texting and driving to be so dangerous? Is it that the driver has to look away from the road? Maybe not. Many teenagers boast that they can text without even looking at their phones. Is it that it takes the driver’s hands from the wheel? So do many other things that don’t seem to cause major distraction, from scratching an itch to changing the radio station.
Whatever the answer, it appears that texting is still too distracting for drivers even if their heads are up and their hands are free. According to a new study in the journal Human Factors, drivers’ performance still degraded whether they texted using a smartphone or Google Glass, which allows the user to keep facing forward and text via voice input.
To be sure, entering texts manually did lead to a lot more time with eyes spent off the road in front of the drivers. It also led to slower reaction times. Google Glass users only had to change their eye direction to read a text, as opposed to smartphone users who actually had to look down and away from the road. Users reported Google Glass was easier to use and less disruptive than a smartphone.
However, a researcher at the Center for Research and Innovation in Systems Safety at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center pointed out that using Google Glass instead of a smartphone is merely “less unsafe.”
“Regardless of entry or display method, it is not safe to perform these types of secondary task while driving in environments where the workload from driving is already heavy.”
As you may know, Google Glass went off the market in 2015, which makes this study of somewhat lower real-world value. However, results showing that a device like Google Glass could actually reduce the danger of texting while driving could serve to reanimate the product.
When you’re on the road, please remember that even the less distracting option was still far too distracting. If you think you’re better at it than other drivers, please reconsider. The human factor that makes driving less safe could be you.