Groundbreaking new research published yesterday by the AAA Foundation for Highway Safety finds that the process of using your voice to author a text or email message is so taxing on your brain that you're significantly more likely to crash, even if your hands are on the wheel and eyes are on the road.
I think the timing of the AAA study is ironic for two reasons.
First, it comes at a time when automakers across the world are engaged in an "arms race" to introduce more and more voice-activated systems to satisfy growing consumer demand for staying connected to the web while driving.
Second, it comes the day after Google spent $1 billion to acquire Waze a social networking mobile app that people use while driving to avoid traffic and find the fastest route to a destination. NOTE: If you haven't used Waze yet, take a look to see for yourself how useful it can be, and just how much it demands driver attention.
So what's next?
How will the automobile manufacturers react? Will they stop pushing hands-free technologies into cars?
What will mobile technology giants like Google, Apple, Samsung and others do? Will they cease to develop applications that appeal to people while driving?
In my opinion, despite the powerful conclusions of this new research, i don't think anything will change near term. The demand among consumers for the mobile web is so great that auto-makers and app-makers will do what they're designed to do...push forward in an attempt to satisfy market demand.
The good news is that innovative solutions already exist to promote safe and legal use of mobile devices while driving. And these solutions, like everything else, will continue to evolve and improve over time to help balance and manage competing desires for "mobile productivity" with "vehicle safety".