Siri Eyes Free (BMW)

Despite its good intentions, using Siri while driving is actually quite dangerous, according to a new study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. After a series of tests involving 45 drivers completing in-car tasks with various voice control systems, researchers found Apple’s digital assistant to be a “high level of mental distraction.”

In fact, Siri performed the worst out of all of the various systems they tested, and even resulted in two crashes during the simulator study. The popular assistant was also rated the least intuitive and the most complex, and AAA criticized it for its lack of consistency and flexibility when it came to recognizing voice commands from its drivers.

The drivers were monitored for a variety of feedback cues including heart rate, brain functions and peripheral vision detection and response. And these things were tracked as the drivers performed the variety of voice command tasks in three separate environments: not driving, driving in a simulator, and driving in residential streets.

aaa siri test

It’s worth noting here that researchers looked at Siri in iOS version 7.0, not iOS 8 where the feature has been [arguably] much improved, and more importantly neglected CarPlay. They also graded Siri on sending/receiving messages, updating Twitter and managing Calendars—tasks far more complex than the others were capable of.

As for OEM offerings, Toyota’s Entune was found to be the least distracting with a ranking of 1.7. Hyundai’s Blue Link came in at 2.2, Chrysler’s Uconnect at 2.7, and Ford’s SYNC with Touch was rated a 3.0. Chevrolet’s MyLink was the worst out of the automotive industry, with a distraction level at 3.7, though it still beat out Siri at 4.0.

AAA’s study arrives as the first aftermarket CarPlay head units have become available. Apple announced the project last summer, but we have yet to see it roll out to many production vehicles (outside of Ferrari). In its hands-on review of CarPlay, Consumer Reports found the system to be intuitive and effective at reducing distraction.

[AAA Newsroom]

  • I like in the title instead of writing SIRI has been linked to be the leading cause of crashes in recent studies. But seem to avoid that route. I saw the same article somewhere, I think 9to5 was unbiased, enjoyed it.

    This article is biased. Just saying.

    • I’m inclined to agree with iDB. Although the title is a little misleading, iOS 8 should have been used in this study instead of iOS 7 and in addition to this the study should have also looked at CarPlay…

      Without considering the above two factors the study is meaningless.

      • Hyr3m

        Considering more people are on iOS 7 or earlier versions than on iOS 8 I do think there is some relevance to it…
        Also, as Melvco said, most voice-controlled systems have been found to be either medium or high distraction… the version change may bring it back to “medium” instead of “high” but it’s still a considerable distraction… although one would have to be really thick to not already know that so you do have a point about its meaninglessness.

      • BoardDWorld

        Who said more people are on iOS7? We’re talking about iOS, not Android.

    • Melvco

      Confused as to what is being implied here. The AAA report didn’t look at actual crash data, it was based on results from a series of controlled tests.

  • What’s the point in conducting a study if it’s not going to be conducted properly resulting in a biased outcome? iOS 8 should have been tested instead of iOS 7 which would immediately reduce distractions due to the ability to trigger Siri using the “hey Siri” keyword. In addition to this CarPlay greatly improves the user experience of using Siri in a car due to it’s big interface designed for ease of use. How such a study cannot investigate CarPlay is just stupid.

    • gittlopctbi

      I agree with you, but perhaps the timing of the study was such that iOS 8 was not yet available.

  • @dongiuj

    Let me guess, Siri wasn’t designed for in-car use. Right? This goes to all the people protecting and making excuses for a company they don’t own.

    • Kurt

      Next time they troll us we should say, “Be careful because Siri can kill you.”

  • Steven Honey

    Not for police officers. Cops are superhuman beings who don’t get distracted by anything because they are bamfs. They have cb radios, cell phones, walkie talkies(lol), laptop computers, gangsters in the back seat yelling and spitting at them, hookers giving….

    • Kurt

      http://www.infowars dot com/police-reject-candidate-for-being-too-intelligent/

      And with the national iq of police officers at 104 it makes you wonder why they are pushed to multitask with so many devices.

  • Alberto Espinal

    So whaaat! Dont use siri then, is it attached to your brain? No!

  • askep3

    This is a totally stupid study, they are using and older version of siri (this matters a lot because siri didn’t really work for me in ios 7, but now I use it all the time in ios 8, because it works) and they aren’t using CarPlay, which is MEANT for cars, just like Toyota’s entune, and stuff.

  • Matt

    Kudos to whoever decided to put a picture of a BMW (appears to be a 5 series) as the main picture.

    • Justin Rowe

      If you look you’ll notice all the cars are BMW’s lol

  • MacGuru17

    I would tend to concur, as I tried using Siri today to text my mum whilst I was driving. It took four tries to get the message right. When it works, it’s great, but it relies too much on you being able to look at the display and tap on buttons.

    Granted, I’m a grammar nazi, so most of those tries were spent getting a full stop (period) added to the end of my ‘I’m on my way home.’ sentence, but oh well…

    I still think Apple should make a ‘car mode’ that knows when you’re driving (using the latest sensors) and only presents a very simplified, intuitive interface to use when doing so. You would be able to summon Siri, play/pause/skip tracks, call a favourited contact, or input a Maps destination. That’s it, until you’re safely stopped. This would surely stop a lot of those stupid imbeciles who text and drive. Obviously there would be a bypass for passengers, but it would take much more effort than a driver could spare.

    • have_gun_will_travel

      Why didn’t you speak to Siri,”I’m on my way home , (then short pause) period.”
      I, too, am a “grammar nazi,” and have no problems with Siri and punctuation. If you do a short pause, and tell Siri the punctuation you want, Siri will add it for you, COMPLETELY hands-free. I do it all the time.

      • MacGuru17

        I did that (though I said ‘full stop’ rather than ‘period’, as that’s what works when Siri’s set to British English), but I guess Siri was just having a bad day.

        He works just fine now. Oh well.

  • Kurt


    • Umut Bilgiç


    • Hyr3m

      Surrogate 😀

  • Kr00

    My question is, why are so many people doing something else other than actually driving the car? I would’ve thought that this was the most important task to perform in a car?!

  • SBG

    I think Apple have long Way to go with Siri to works with all languages and integration with all the systems like “car play”