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If you think using hands-free, voice-activated systems to make phone calls or work your car's entertainment systems is safe, think again, AAA says. All of the systems increase the amount of distraction a driver has to deal with, essentially increasing their chances of having an accident. "Hands-Free is not risk-free," said Peter Kissinger, president and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. "There's a misunderstanding many people have that they are not increasing their chances of an accident just because they are using voice-activated systems when driving."
When AAA studied the reaction times of 167 drivers using voice-activated systems to make phone calls or change the radio station, it found drivers had slower reaction times and increased levels of distraction. "The level of distraction depends on how complex the system is within a particular vehicle," said Kissinger. The AAA study confirms what many safety advocates have said for some time. The problem of distracted driving won't be eliminated completely by people using voice-activated systems. Last year 3,328 people in the U.S. were killed in distracted driving accidents according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Another 421,000 were injured.
-- Phil LeBeau, CNBC