AAA: Infotainment systems for driving still a distraction, study says

Muriel Hammond
October 7, 2017

The study done by AAA finds that technology built into the dashboards of many cars is taking drivers' eyes and attention off the road and their hands off the wheel for potentially risky periods of time.

The study, released Thursday, looked at 30 different infotainment systems in 2017 vehicles and assessed how much visual and mental demand was required from drivers to use their features.

According to the research programming navigation was the most distracting task, taking an average of 40 seconds for drivers to complete. The worst culprits were navigation tasks, which distracted drivers for up to 40 seconds.

In that time, driving at only 25 miles an hour, a vehicle travels the length of about four football fields. Programming navigation while driving was available in 12 of the 30 vehicle systems tested.

Previous AAA research indicates one in three US adults use infotainment systems while driving. The researchers also concluded that frustration from trying to use hard systems leads to even more driver distraction. "We welcome the opportunity to meet with other interested parties to discuss the report's recommendations and ways to mitigate driver distraction", added Doney.

Even older drivers called the technology cumbersome. Researchers studied how long the driver's eyes were off the road and how long it took to complete certain tasks.

AAA says on-board technology such as touchscreens could be distracting drivers and risking safety. A low level of demand equates to listening to the radio or an audiobook, while very high demand is equivalent to trying to balance a checkbook while driving. "Automakers agree that hands on the wheel and eyes on the road continue to be critical to safe driving", Wade Newton, a spokesman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, told Chicago Tribune in an email.

Under pressure from the industry, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2012 issued voluntary safety guidelines to automakers for dashboard technology instead of enforceable safety standards.

"These are solvable problems".

AAA said drivers should use infotainment technologies "only for legitimate emergencies or urgent, driving-related purposes".

None of the 30 vehicle infotainment systems produced low demand and many of them offered features unrelated to the core task of driving.

New in-car technology systems are "too distracting" despite being created to curtail the use of handheld mobile devices while driving, the American Automobile Association found in a new report. 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.

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