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That Device May Be Hands-Free, But Your Brain Is Still Engaged

Wednesday, July 31, 2013 - 12:23 PM

A distracted driver. (Khromov Alexey/Shutterstock)

The auto industry has become a technological arms race on four wheels, with manufacturers and app developers furiously working to make cars as connected as smartphones. But just because something is voice-controlled doesn't mean your brain can multitask behind the wheel.

There's "this avalanche of research coming together over the past few years to show that when your hands are on the wheel, it doesn't mean your mind is on the road," said Kara Miller, host of WGBH's Innovation Hub on Wednesday's The Takeaway.

She cited studies showing activities like applying makeup and dialing a phone triple the likelihood of being in a crash. The least distracting things to do behind the wheel: smoking and sipping fluids. And somewhere in between your eyelash curler and your coffee are the activities that double the likelihood of a crash: talking, listening, eating and putting in a CD.

What's the solution? Miller is holding out for the driverless cars of the future.

Listen to the conversation on The Takeaway at the top of the page.

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