Infotainment Systems on Par With Cell Phones for Distracted Driving


Some of these new features include large screens, touch screens and writing pads, which are now the standard gadgets in new cars, but these infotainment systems create increased distractions for drivers, according to a new study.

Numerous infotainment features in most 2017 vehicles are so distracting they should not be enabled while a vehicle is in motion, according to a new study released Thursday by University of Utah researchers. And, the infotainment system should be designed in a way that drivers don't have to focus much on them to operate. In a vehicle that is traveling at a speed of just 25 miles per hour, that driver would have motored the length of around three football fields before in the time it takes to configure the in-car navigation.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety commissioned researchers from the University of Utah to examine the visual (eyes off road) and cognitive (mental) demand as well as the time it took drivers to complete a task using the infotainment systems in 30 new 2017 vehicles. With one in three USA adults using infotainment systems while driving, AAA cautions that using these technologies while behind the wheel can have risky consequences. The drivers were between 21 and 36 years old.

Touch-screen and voice-controlled systems are "allowing us to do other things besides driving, but the primary task should really be to get from point A to point B safely, he continued". AAA believes a safe in-vehicle technology system should not exceed a low level of demand.

The study also indicated that the single most distracting task in terms of driver engagement was programming the navigation system.

The AAA called out 30 vehicles in which technology can be particularly unsafe.

With options for sending texts, surfing the internet and checking social media in some tech packages, the risks only go up from there. In 2015, however, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recorded that 3,477 people were killed and around 391,000 were injured in motor vehicles because of distracted drivers.

Some automakers have already disabled certain infotainment features when the vehicle is in drive.

The CDC says it's not just your cell phone, it's anything that takes your eyes off the wheel.

A previous AAA study found that using voice commands on a smartphone was more distracting than talking on a smartphone while driving.

"Automakers should aim to reduce distractions by designing systems that are no more visually or mentally demanding than listening to the radio or an audiobook", said Doney. They can either keep next generation infotainment products in their cars for driver convenience or modify or eliminate the technology to make the vehicle less likely to have accidents.