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Does Better Tech Decrease Distracted Driving?

Many new mobile devices can use "voice-to-text" technology to replace typing at a keyboard and thus, the manufacturers claim, reduce distracted driving.

Most of these services are compatible with most mobile devices, with little or no additional hardware needed. Voice on the Go lets you call the company's local phone number, use your headset or put your phone on speaker, and you can then use voice to perform most e-mail, text and social media features. Vlingo is more limited, but charges no monthly fee. Other services include Drive Safe.ly, Voice Assist and Jott Assistant.

Even though they may allow you to keep your hands on the wheel, hands-free mobile technology may be more dangerous than a hand-held mobile device. Recently, a research team at the University of Utah used in-cabin cameras, EEGs and a specialized Detection-Response-Task device to measure the effects of hands-free technology. The results were rather alarming.

Instead of decreasing distracted driving in Kern County, hands-free devices actually increased distracted driving by 50 percent. The increased mental workload from this onslaught of information meant that while the driver's hands may have been on the wheel, the driver's mind was elsewhere, leading to missed visual cues and slower reaction time. AAA suggested that hands-free technology be limited to core driving functions, such as operating the windshield wipers, electronic communication be automatically disabled while the car is in motion and drivers take additional safety and education classes.

The Google Glass ticket may have been only the beginning. Expect the state to pass additional laws against using hands-free devices while driving or operating a motor vehicle in Tulare County.

Reasonably speaking, we know that people are on the go and will use technology to some extent to accomplish more. But be reasonable out there in your use of technology. Perfectly legal activity can still be dangerous. You can try to do too much.

But if you find yourself with a ticket for your use of technology that could adversely impact your ability to take care of your family or pay your car insurance, contact my office for help.