The following series of Talking to Your Car is Often Distracting videos explore is Talking to Your Car is Often Distracting videos developed by AAA to explore and illustrate this area of risk.

Even though your car may be configured to support social media, texting and phone calls, it doesn’t mean it is safe to do so,” says University of Utah psychology professor and study leader David Strayer. “The primary task should be driving. Things that take your attention away make you a poor driver and make the roads less safe.”

The studies were sponsored by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, an arm of the nonprofit AAA, formerly known as the American Automobile Association.

– One new study found that using your voice to make phone calls and tune the radio with Chevrolet’s MyLink system distracted drivers the most. Mercedes’ COMMAND system, MyFord Touch and Chrysler’s UConnect were better, but all diverted attention more than a cell phone conversation. The least distracting system was Toyota’s Entune, which took as much attention as listening to a book on tape, followed by Hyundai’s Blue Link, which was a bit more distracting, but less than talking with a passenger.

– In the other new study, using Apple iPhone’s Siri to send and receive texts, post to Facebook and Twitter and use a calendar was more distracting than any other voice-activated technology – even when it was modified for use as a hands-free, eyes-free device so drivers kept their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.

AAA and Strayer urge drivers to minimize use of distracting in-vehicle technology. The new studies provide recommendations to automakers to help make future voice-controlled systems so they are “simpler and more accurate” in responding to voice commands, and thus less distracting, Strayer says.

“We are concerned we may be making distraction problems worse by going to voice-activated technology, especially if it’s not easy to use,” Strayer says. “But the reality is these systems are here to stay. Given that, let’s make the technology as safe as possible with the goal of making it no more distracting than listening to the radio.”

How the New Studies Were Performed

The studies involved 162 University of Utah students and other volunteers who performed a series of tasks (such as calling, texting, tuning the radio) using various voice-based, interactive technologies while they looked at a computer screen, operated a driving simulator and drove real cars on a loop through Salt Lake City’s Avenues district.

In the real cars, drivers were accompanied by at least one researcher responsible for data collection and for safety spotting to prevent them from mishaps such as running stop signs. Video cameras recorded their actions and the road ahead.

The findings follow a 2013 AAA-University of Utah study that showed using hands-free devices to talk, text or send e-mail is distracting and risky for motorists.

The 2013 study established a five-point scale for measuring driver distractions: 1 represents the mental workload of driving without distraction, while 5 represents severe distraction caused when drivers performed a complex math-and-memorization test.

The 2013 study gave distraction ratings (from least to most distracting) of 1.21 for listening to the radio, 1.75 for listening to a book on tape, 2.27 for using a hands-free cell phone, 2.33 for talking with a passenger, 2.45 for using a hand-held cell phone and 3.06 for using a speech-to-text system that recognized commands perfectly to play and compose emails and texts.