How To Make the Most of Voice-Activated Assistants

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More research has come out that you and I as drivers are a very distracted bunch; voice-activated assistants in our cars are marketed as tools to fight distracted driving. But voice-activated technology like Alexa and Siri can make drivers more distracted, not less.

It just depends on how drivers choose to use this kind of tech. For myself, it enables me to do a ton more hands free-check it!the_10_step_automotive_checklist_for_summer_road_trips-pic-9133192083951738621-1600x1200

 

These tips are designed to help drivers who already have a car with a digital assistant and those who are starting their search for a car with this kind of technology.

 

If you’ve got an older-model car with voice-activated technology, here are a few need-to-knows to make the most of voice-activated assistants while staying focused:

  • Figure out if your system requires very specific phrases to complete tasks: One AAA study that looked closely at several voice-activated assistants found that when drivers need to think hard about using the right phrase to complete a task, it can take their minds off driving.
  • Take a closer look at the manual to see if your system requires specific words to understand your commands.
  • Take note if your digital assistant can listen and complete tasks quickly and error-free. Many drivers know the frustrations that come with a digital assistant that inaccurately hears a command — or doesn’t hear it at all!
  • If you catch yourself repeating commands or undoing what the digital assistant does, you may increase your distraction levels.

When it comes to finding older-model cars with strong voice-activated tech, one of the best systems I have come across is the 2014 Mazda MAZDA3, which has reviews also of 10/10 for Technology along with Safety. For midsize crossovers most GM products featuring GMs MyLink System can be pretty intuitive, user friendly and accurate.

I’m much less impressed with the 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA Class, the system responds slowly to commands from the driver and has difficulty pairing with phones.

This was also true of the 2014 Subaru Forester, which is really a great vehicle- except for its poor microphone reception.

If you’ve got a newer-model car with voice-activated technology, you may have access to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto — or Siri and Google, respectively.

These assistants have better comprehension than their predecessors, letting drivers speak naturally and stay focused on driving. While the tech may be newer, you aren’t free from distraction.

Here’s how to minimize distraction with these digital assistants:

  • Avoid asking Alexa (or another assistant) to complete complicated tasks — like transcribing an email or responding to a text message — while driving. Yes, drivers can do this with digital assistants, but these tasks can be very distracting, as they require a hefty amount of brain power.

Instead, have your digital assistant read you emails and text messages — but wait until you’ve stopped to respond.

  • Pay attention to how long it takes for these systems to complete tasks. While these digital assistants may understand you immediately, do they require complicated follow-up questions?

Try to keep your interactions with your digital assistant brief to minimize distraction.

If you’re in the market for a newer-model car, I’d say the 2018 Toyota Camry and the 2018 Chevrolet Traverse, which features Chevy’s MyLink(Any vehicle featuring Chevy MyLink really),

The Chevy MyLink technology and infotainment system is by FAR one of the easiest to use in the industry, it comes with everything from a 4G LTE Wi-Fi connection, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto to OnStar subscription services and programmable Teen Driver report-card technology.”

Less impressive would be the 2018 Lexus 350 RX L, as it’s missing out on Android Auto and Apple CarPlay as well as Alexa integration.

Add to that the 2018 Toyota Sienna. This vehicle is not dynamically impressive. Each time I tried to use the system to find a specific place for which I did know the specific address, it attempted to direct me to something that sounded similar in a different state.

Do you use voice-activated assistants? How do you stay focused?

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