AAA Foundation study reveals vehicle infotainment systems often distract drivers
Mental distractions can dangerously affect drivers behind the wheel. Cognitive attention is crucial to safe driving, yet many automotive technologies can cause drivers to lose focus on driving and the road ahead.  According to a new study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, new vehicle infotainment systems offer an array of high-tech features, but they can create increased distraction behind the wheel by increasing the time drivers spend with their eyes and attention off the road and hands off the wheel. 

What did AAA's study look at?

The study looked at drivers using voice command, touch screen and other interactive technologies to make a call, send a text message, tune the radio, or program navigation, all while driving.

How distracted are you?

What the study found

The study concluded that drivers using voice-based and touch screen technology experienced very high levels of visual and mental demands when completing tasks like programming navigation or sending a text message. It also accounted for how long it took drivers to complete tasks using vehicle technology, and discovered that programming navigation was the most distracting task behind the wheel, taking an average of 40 seconds for drivers to complete. At just 25 mph, a car can travel the length of four football fields during that time.

Researchers found that most infotainment systems tested could easily be made safer by simply following federal recommendations, such as locking out text messaging, access to social media, and programming navigation while the car is in motion.

Another recent AAA survey shows that nearly 70 percent of U.S. adults want this new technology in their vehicle, but only 24 percent believe the technology works properly.

What AAA recommends

AAA recommends drivers avoid the temptation to engage with these technologies when the vehicle is in motion.

AAA believes a safe in-vehicle technology system should not require high visual and mental demands from drivers. AAA encourages automakers to improve technology, and has offered to help work with them to reduce demands on drivers. By following the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s voluntary guidelines to lock out certain features while the vehicle is in motion, automakers can significantly improve the safety of new vehicles on the road.

For more tips and more information about what you can do to avoid distracted driving, visit AAA's distracted driving hub.

Information taken from "Visual and Cognitive Demands of Using In-Vehicle Infotainment Systems," AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, September 2017.