Posted: Apr 23, 2013 4:26 PM EDT

By Mark Kelly – bio | email
Lynchburg, VA – A new study is warning drivers about texting on the roads. But, this time the warning is about voice-to-text technology, like iPhone’s Siri. Siri and others like it are more hands-free than the old-fashion texting with your fingers, but does that mean it’s safe to use on the road?
According to this study, recording a text message by speaking in to your phone isn’t any safer than typing texts when you’re behind the wheel. Texas A&M Transportation Institute did the research and, ABC 13 did an experiment of our own.
To do our own little voice-texting experiment, we enlisted help from Ken Frederick, a driving instructor. The pressure was on. “You got me nervous here, Ken,” said Mark Kelly, reporter. The goal: weave in and out of an obstacle course of cones while using the voice-to-text gadget on my cellphone. Let’s just say I had a rough start. “First, I have to find the icon. That’s already slowing me down and taking my eyes off the road,” said Kelly.
Frederick timed me. First, without voice-texting. Then, with. “Hey, can you meet me in five minutes?” Kelly said. My results were lousy. “More than likely, he would be out of control and involved in a crash, possibly a rollover situation, and maybe even hitting someone else,” said Frederick, describing my driving.
The TTI study had similar results. It had 43 drivers voice-text and drive in a real-world environment. Researchers found voice-texters took twice as long to react. Plus, their performance was roughly bad for both finger and voice-texting. Drivers even felt a false sense of security doing voice instead of finger-texting.
We took the test to the public. “All of my friends text and drive. I’m going to be honest. I’ve been in almost near accident situations because my friends were texting and driving,” said Jarrett Morton, driver. Karyn Curran has a solution. “I think software should be installed so that where they get in to their car, texting is automatically cut off, and they can’t text until the car is cut off,” said Curran. Technology like that would’ve made my drive much safer. “Any type of distraction is going to increase the person’s risk of having a crash,” said Frederick.
Just want to remind folks, for our texting experiment, we were in a controlled environment under the direction of a trained driving instructor. That driving instructor reminds us that texting can be just as deadly as driving under the influence.