Car Infotainment Systems Lead To Increased And Deadly Driver Distractions

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New research commissioned by the American Automobile Association Foundation for Traffic Safety underscores what previous studies have already indicated-that distracted driving is a growing problem.

October 5, 2017; The National Safety Council applauds the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety on its new research highlighting the correlation between distraction and new vehicle infotainment systems.

According to the research programming navigation was the most distracting task, taking an average of 40 seconds for drivers to complete. That's long enough for a vehicle going 25 miles per hour to travel more than a quarter mile - while the driver is preoccupied with their Global Positioning System. Twelve of the 30 vehicles allow navigation destinations to be entered while driving; for safety, AAA recommends locking out this functionality while the auto is in motion.

Of the 30 vehicle systems AAA studied, 23 required high or very high demand on drivers to operate. The scale ranged from low to very high levels of demand.

With one in three US adults using infotainment systems while driving, AAA cautions drivers that using these technologies while behind the wheel can have risky consequences.

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Carmakers have been pushing the envelope year after year and with technology becoming so advanced and intuitive, it seems only natural that the way cars work and support drivers should undergo a huge change. Worse: they tend to distract the driver.

When it comes to this onboard technology, while almost 70% of U.S. adults say they want it, but only 24 percent feel that the technology works perfectly. In 2012, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released a set of voluntary safety guidelines advising automakers to block access to tasks when vehicles are not parked. Automakers should also design infotainment systems so that they require no more attention to use than listening to the radio or an audiobook, it said. "This is troublesome", the report says, "because motorists may assume that features that are enabled when they are driving are safe and easy to use".

The knobs and buttons that were once ubiquitous in cars have given way to a touch screen that allows drivers to use social media, email, and text - but the technology can be complicated to use.

AAA also indicated that driver frustration with these infotainments systems increases cognitive demand and thus raises the potential for distracted driving.

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