BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The new high-tech dashboards featured in many cars on the road may be more of a hindrance than a help. That’s what a new AAA study discovered.

Gigi Barnett explains how.

Those fancy high-tech dashboards that make phone calls, send voice-driven text messages and link up smart phone apps are called “infotainment” dashes. Automakers bill them as safety devices in cars, but a new AAA study released this week found otherwise.

“They may be more convenient but they’re not safer,” said Ragina Averella, AAA.

Averella says that kind of cutting-edge technology at the fingertips of drivers is a greater distraction than just talking on a hand-held device.

AAA teamed up with researchers at the University of Utah. They found the “infotainment” dashboards stalled reaction times of drivers and that increases the chance of an accident.

“Some of these in-vehicle technologies that you think are making it safer because your hands are on the wheel…many studies, even prior to this, suggest that hands-free is not risk-free,” Averella said.

And the voice-to-text features were the most dangerous.

Some drivers say hte best way to stay safe on the road is to steer clear of distractions on the dashboard.

“When you look down, you take your eyes off the road. That second can cause you to do harm to someone,” said driver John Thomas.

Maryland will soon join Washington DC in making the use of a hand-held device a primary offense. That means an officer will not need another reason to pull you over and ticket you. That law goes into effect on October 1.

Texting while driving is already a primary offense in Maryland.


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