Technology crammed into cars worsens driver distraction

BUSINESS New cars are more distracting than ever 5 Oct 2017 5:30pm 4 minutes to read Distractions in new cars are a problem

Infotainment systems distract drivers, and navigation systems could be the biggest culprit, according to a new study.

The organisation's Foundation for Traffic Safety ran a study of thirty 2017 model cars in which drivers carried out three hours of driving on quiet residential roads.

The researchers found that entering a destination into the navigation system was the most demanding of drivers' attention, followed by texting. AAA found that a dozen of the 30 vehicles tested had systems that required high demand from drivers.

AAA says on-board technology such as touchscreens could be distracting drivers and risking safety.

With one in three USA adults using infotainment systems while driving, AAA cautions drivers that using these technologies while behind the wheel can have unsafe consequences. Drivers get busy using the voice commands, making calls and sending texts along with other interactive technologies. This is far from the first study to point out the dangers of distracted driving, with infotainment systems being a point of focus. The technology is typically presented as a safer alternative to using a phone while driving. The study found that drivers remain distracted for up to 27 seconds after performing such a task. "Automakers have developed vehicle-integrated systems, to which portable electronics may be connected, that are created to be used in the driving environment and require driver attention that is comparable to tuning the radio or adjusting climate controls, which have always been considered baseline acceptable behaviors while driving". 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. However, manufacturers still enable the navigation centers and infotainment options when the auto is on the move.

That's the conclusion from new research on distracted driving released Thursday by AAA's Center for Driving Safety and Technology. 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.

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