Hands-Free Texting Still Distracting for Drivers

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- The auto club Triple-A is warning of a "public safety crisis" -- from dashboard technology that lets drivers text and email with voice commands.

A new study by the group finds that the technology is actually more distracting than simply talking on a cellphone.

The head of Triple-A's Foundation for Traffic Safety says when people are distracted by another task, they can develop what researchers call "inattention blindness." They look straight ahead, but fail to see what's in front of them -- like red lights and pedestrians.

There are about 9 million cars and trucks on the road with infotainment systems, and Triple-A says that's expected to jump to about 62 million vehicles by 2018. Officials with the auto group say they want to limit the voice-driven technologies to "core driving tasks" -- instead of activities like posting Facebook messages and ordering pizza.

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers says it's skeptical about the report. The automakers' trade group says it's concerned that the report could "send a misleading message," by suggesting that hand-held devices and hands-free devices "are equally risky."

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