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Report brings new attention to distracted driving

New safety research crashes with some assumptions regarding technology designed to safely enable drivers to communicate. The findings from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety indicate hands-free systems create additional distractions for drivers.

Dr. David Strayer, professor of psychology at the University of Utah, co-authored the study on the effects of hands-free technologies on drivers. Employing methods used to test the brain functions of pilots, the research shows a surprising level of driver distraction, even inside newer vehicles with built-in communications systems.

"We're looking at this kind of activity and finding that voice-based interactions aren't free of costs. That it takes a considerable amount of attention," Strayer explained.

"There's this myth in our culture that we're good at multi-tasking, but it's not true."

According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, a total of 257 drivers ages 21-70 participated in the study of 2015 model-year vehicles. An additional 65 drivers ages 21-68 tested three-phone systems. 

"When we try to multi-task, in pretty much any domain, what happens is something doesn't go well," Strayer said.

"When it comes to driving, the driving suffers."

According to Strayer, "it takes up to 27 seconds to get attention back on the road as it would have been had you not been interacting with that technology."  


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Jay joined Buffalo Toronto Public Media in 2008 and has been local host for NPR's "Morning Edition" ever since. In June, 2022, he was named one of the co-hosts of WBFO's "Buffalo, What's Next."

A graduate of St. Mary's of the Lake School, St. Francis High School and Buffalo State College, Jay has worked most of his professional career in Buffalo. Outside of public media, he continues in longstanding roles as the public address announcer for the Buffalo Sabres of the National Hockey League and as play-by-play voice of Canisius College basketball.