PITTSBURGH (NewsRadio 1020 KDKA) – The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety conducted one of the most comprehensive studies on a driver’s mental distraction.

The study found that as mental workload and distractions increase, the driver’s reaction time slows down. Researchers say drivers scan the road less and miss visual clues which could result in missing obvious things right in front of them.

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Their study followed a smaller study by the Texas Transportation Institute from April that found voice-texting and calling was just as dangerous as texting manually. The 150 drivers that participated in the AAA Foundation study were analyzed while undergoing eight different distracting activities as they tried to “drive” on a simulator. They also drove an instrumented vehicle on residential streets in Salt Lake City for the study.

Drivers had their brain waves, eye movement, and other body actions measured to see what happens as drivers were distracted with audio books, talking on the phone and responding to an email using voice-texting.

President and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, Peter Kissinger joined KDKA Radio’s Mike Pintek to talk about their study and what the group hopes to accomplish with the results.

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“What AAA is calling for is for the car manufacturers and the electronic industry to collaborate with us,” said Kissinger. “We’ve invited them out to Utah to where this research was conducted to sit down and discuss our plans and methodology for phase two, and hopefully, they will take us up on that offer.”

He continues that their overall goal is to collaboratively learn as much as they can about this and help all drivers continue driving as safe as possible. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is urging the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to widen it’s distraction guidelines to include mental distraction associated with voice-activated calling.

The Foundation was founded in 1947 by AAA to address the growing number of highway safety issues. The group takes it upon themselves to find the problems, research a solution and distribute information to prevent the danger from happening. They believe that “knowledge is the first step to becoming a better driver.”

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Mike Pintek is live weekdays noon to 3 p.m. only on NewsRadio 1020 KDKA!