Car Infotainment Systems Lead To Increased And Deadly Driver Distractions

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New so-called "infotainment" systems in cars may distract drivers for "potentially risky periods of time", AAA said in a study released today.

In-vehicle voice-based and touchscreen features are too mentally taxing to be considered safe to use while driving, according to a new study by the University of Utah commissioned by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

Newer infotainment systems often require drivers to avert their eyes from the roads, leading to more risky driving. It took drivers 40 seconds to complete the task and they were distracted from driving the whole time. This tech, often in the form of complicated "infotainment" systems, gives drivers the ability to take calls, send texts, navigate, and choose what to listen to through a screen on the dashboard. David Strayer, a professor at the University of Utah, said, "Some of the most advanced systems are really very hard for the driver to use".

In particular they point out that touch screen require "high levels of visual and mental demand".

"Drivers want technology that is safe and easy to use, but numerous features added to infotainment systems today have resulted in overly complex and sometimes frustrating user experiences for drivers", said Marshall Doney, AAA's president and CEO. "And drivers should avoid the temptation to engage with these technologies, especially for non-driving tasks". This is supposed to make controlling these functions easier and less distracting, but the study's authors say the verdict is still out and it plans to assess these systems in future studies.

Automakers are cramming "infotainment technology" into new cars and drivers are now taking their eyes off the road and hands off the wheel for dangerously long periods of time.

Drivers looked away from the road less when using voice commands, but that safety benefit was offset by the increased amount of time drivers spent interacting with the systems. The study found that drivers remain distracted for up to 27 seconds after performing such a task.

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

Now some automakers already ban some features from being used when the vehicle is moving. This is enough to put the drive at risk of a serious accident: Previous research from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that the risk of a crash doubles when a driver takes his or her eyes off the road for two seconds. "Just because you don't have that phone in your hand, does not mean your any safer", Goodman said.

Carmakers are cramming more and more technology into our cars-including the ones we still have to drive.

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