Do not Siri and drive.
New research shows that serious distraction can result when drivers use Siri, Apple's voice-activation system, to navigate, send and receive texts, use Facebook or Twitter. Siri, it turns out, is not a safe alternative to texting-and-driving, even when a driver doesn't use the phone.
And the distraction risks happen with other voice-activated technologies, which are becoming more commonplace in cars, according to the research, sponsored by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
The research, conducted at the University of Utah, found that most distracting voice-activating systems flustered drivers to the point of them "cursing the systems out" for misunderstanding words and commands, said David Strayer, a neuroscientist with the University of Utah who led the research.
At one point, Strayer said, someone testing one of the voice-activated systems "tried to change the radio and it instead changed the temperature in the car."
But there is some potential good news for these systems, according to the research. It found that some automaker voice-activation solutions, in particular Toyota's Entune system and Hyundai's Blue Link system, are less distracting than those offered by competitors.
Those examples show "these systems can be designed so they aren't very distracting to drivers," Strayer said in a statement. Given these systems "are here to stay," he said, the goal is to make them "no more distracting than listening to the radio."
Of all the systems studied, Siri proved the most distracting.
The research follows studies published last year that began to document the risks of voice-activated systems, which are becoming increasingly commonplace.