Siri Creator: Texting While Driving Study Challenged

May 1, 2013 Updated: July 18, 2015

Siri creator texting while driving: The creator of Apple’s Siri feature for the iPhone is challenging reports over a recent study which found that using Siri, a voice-to-text application, is just as unsafe as texting and driving.

Adam Cheyer, the co-inventor of Siri, said that media reports did not accurately portray the findings of the study, which was carried out by the Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M University.

He said that the study’s authors did not test Siri or Vlingo in the hands-free and eyes-free mode.

“I don’t think that there is any evidence that shows that if Siri and other systems are used properly in eyes-free mode, they are ‘just as risky as texting,’” Cheyer, who helped create Siri in 2010, told Xconomy.com.

In the study, researchers asked drivers to drive on a course while holding their Android or iPhone in one hand while behind the wheel, while using Siri.

Cheyer argued that the “eyes-free mode” is crucial. “It assumes you are ‘eyes-busy’ and responds differently,” he said, referring to when a person is using Siri with a Bluetooth headset or speaker.

The study included 43 people who drove along a test course.

“In each case, drivers took about twice as long to react as they did when they weren’t texting,” Christine Yager, who led the study, told the Reuters news agency. “Eye contact to the roadway also decreased, no matter which texting method was used.”

Yager told the news agency that voice-to-text devices took longer than texting because users had to correct errors.

“You’re still using your mind to try to think of what you’re trying to say, and that by proxy causes some driving impairment, and that decreases your response time,” Yager added.

The American Automobile Association supported the study.

“AAA believes the new voice-to-text study done by the Texas Transportation Institution (TTI) is a step in the right direction. AAA feels that past research confirms what we’ve known for many years that hands-free driving isn’t risk-free driving. Most people understand the risks of distraction and other risky behaviors but refuse to apply what they know to their own behavior,” it said, according to CBS.