Hands-Free Siri Interactions Result in Highest Levels of Mental Distraction While Driving

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Used as an in-car hands-free system, Siri causes a high level of mental distraction while driving, according to research conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. In a thorough study [PDF] that measured the cognitive workload of 45 drivers completing in-car tasks using various voice-based technologies, Siri's high complexity and low intuitiveness resulted in some of the highest levels of mental distraction.

Using a five-category rating system, researchers measured Siri-based interactions like sending and receiving text messages and emails, updating Facebook or Twitter, and modifying calendar appointments. Various measurements to record distraction were taken during three separate experiments, in-car on residential streets, without driving, and in a driving simulator.

Researchers tested Siri on an iPhone 5 with iOS 7, using a microphone and voice commands to make the setup both hands-free and eyes-free, with drivers unable to look at or make contact with the phone.

Siri was found to produce the highest mental workload on the researchers' scale, and use of Siri in a car even resulted in two crashes during the simulator study. It was also given the lowest rating of intuitiveness along with the highest rating of complexity, due to its lack of consistency and its inflexibility when it came to voice commands.

Common issues involved inconsistencies in which Siri would produce different responses to seemingly identical commands. In other circumstances, Siri required exact phrases to accomplish specific tasks, and subtle deviations from that phrasing would result in a failure.

When there was a failure to properly dictate a message, it required starting over since there was no way to modify/edit a message or command. Siri also made mistakes such as calling someone other than the desired person from the phone contact list. Some participants also reported frustration with Siri's occasional sarcasm and wit.
According to the researchers, interactions with Siri may improve over time as the voice assistant is able to learn accents and other characteristics of a user's voice, but many commands resulted in overly complex interactions that could be fixed via "improvements to the software design."

Though the AAA study looked at the distraction level when using Siri directly on an iPhone, it did not look at CarPlay, Apple's new in-dash system that the company says is a "smarter, safer way to use your iPhone in the car." Other similar in-dash systems did, however, result in high levels of cognitive workload in a companion study, but cognitive demand varied highly based on the number of comprehension errors and the number of steps required to complete an action.

Early CarPlay reviews have suggested that the system's Siri integration is improved compared to Siri on the iPhone, as it was judged to be easy to use with simple menus and navigation.

The study comes ahead of a set of voluntary guidelines the AAA is planning to create, encouraging users to minimize their cognitive distraction by cutting back on the use of voice-based technologies while driving. According to the AAA, voice-based interactions within a vehicle result in "significant impairments" to driving that may "adversely affect traffic safety."

Article Link: Hands-Free Siri Interactions Result in Highest Levels of Mental Distraction While Driving
 

TwoBytes

macrumors 68030
Jun 2, 2008
2,722
1,547
In other news, share prices fall because Apple makes people crash. Queue the stupid lawsuits...
 

Arkious

macrumors 6502a
Mar 14, 2011
583
0
Newcastle, UK
so all cars with voice recognition are highly mentally distracting? or having a discussion with others?

Drive by yourself without a radio or phone... problem solved
 

RoelJuun

macrumors 6502
Aug 31, 2010
428
169
Netherlands
It doesn't surprise me, you have to listen to her reaction, pay attention in order to either hear and understand her reaction and than often react to send a message for example.

It will get better.
 

ChazSch

macrumors 6502
May 7, 2014
408
437
Rancho Santa Margarita, CA
Researchers tested Siri on an iPhone 5 with iOS 7...
well there is your problem. Was the applicant FAMILIAR with Siri?

once you get her, she is easy. This was probably a first time user
 

FrizzleFryBen

macrumors 6502
Dec 14, 2009
401
6
Charlotte, NC
I prefer people don't even talk on the phone while driving (even bluetooth)... no matter what you say, it's an unnecessary distraction.

On a normal day, I would say 80-90% of people driving like complete idiots are on their phone in one way shape or form. (usually talking)
 

poematik13

macrumors 6502a
Jun 5, 2014
778
412
i turned off siri as soon as i took my phone out of its packaging.

its gimmicky garbage and we dont have the technology (yet) for it to actually be accurate and useful. Also dont want Apple recording and storing my voice
 

RDeckard

macrumors regular
Sep 23, 2013
187
564
All the while, AAA would still rather that you use their "TripTiks" -- those paper maps (hi-lited by hand) that you need to get in one of their offices.
 

ThunderSkunk

macrumors 68030
Dec 31, 2007
2,962
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Milwaukee Area
The idea that people control the speed and direction of their own vehicles, millions at a time, crammed onto narrow roadways, is insanely dangerous as it is. But nowadays, if the expectation is that people shouldn't have to pay attention to driving, then piloting their cars needs to be automated.
 

Zxxv

macrumors 68040
Nov 13, 2011
3,558
1,102
UK
Who were the 45 people?

In a thorough study [PDF] that measured the cognitive workload of 45 drivers completing in-car tasks using various voice-based technologies,

What was the criteria for choosing them?
 
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satyrica

macrumors member
Jan 9, 2011
74
22
Long Beach, CA
What about...

What about including having a conversation with another human in the car? I can't see Siri interaction being much more demanding... :confused:
 

Ulfhednar

macrumors newbie
Apr 12, 2005
18
0
Right, and where does having an argument with your spouse land on this chart?

Right, and where does having an argument with your spouse land on this chart?

Or mediating a fight between your kids in the backseat?

I want to see some real perspective.

Next they'll be telling us we can't have anyone else in the car.
 

napabar

macrumors 6502
Jun 12, 2008
313
452
i turned off siri as soon as i took my phone out of its packaging.

its gimmicky garbage and we dont have the technology (yet) for it to actually be accurate and useful. Also dont want Apple recording and storing my voice
Don't forget to put tin foil on your head.

:rolleyes:
 

itsmemuffins

macrumors 68040
Jun 23, 2010
3,131
1,208
Anyone updating Facebook, Twitter, or stuff like calendar and long messages needs a smack in the face.

Hands free calling and short message reply, like, OK, yes and such is all you should be doing with Siri whilst driving. Also asking to play a song or album or all songs on your phone.

This is what I use Siri for whilst driving. Haven't been distracted yet.
 

bpfesq

macrumors regular
Feb 26, 2010
127
3
Omnipresent
But if Siri drove the car...
I'd end up in Idaho instead of the Sunoco gas station down the street.


But seriously--i'm about to install the new Pioneer 8000 with Car Play. It looks to be far more safe. You cannot read your texts--it just reads them for you. When you text, you dictate and, again, Siri dictates it back to you. No Facebook. No surfing the web. I think the biggest risk is when Siri sends a text that SOUNDS right but the words are spelled wrong (better to appear stupid than dead).

Car Play should be considerably more safe.
 
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