AAA: 'Infotainment' centers a major distraction for drivers

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

Jake Nelson, AAA's director for traffic safety advocacy and research, said drivers testing all 30 of the 2017 model year cars and light trucks took their eyes off the road and hands off the wheel while using infotainment systems.

Researchers developed an advanced rating scale that measured both the visual and mental demand and the time it took to complete a task using each vehicle's infotainment system.

It appears distracted driving is getting worse.

"Some of the most advanced systems are really very hard for the driver to use", says Strayer.

Subaru's infotainment system uses a 6.2-inch touchscreen, though there's also a 7-inch, which still requires the driver to look away from the road.

Considering that the Automobile Club of America says taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds can double the risk of a crash, the study's findings are troubling.

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The study found, for instance, that something as common as entering navigation information could distract a driver for as much as 40 seconds when using some of the latest vehicle tech.

"We strongly urge drivers to avoid the temptation of engaging with technology that distracts them from the mentally-demanding job of driving", said RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams.

When driving at 25 miles per hour, a driver can travel the length of four football fields during the time it could take to enter a destination in navigation.

A car's infotainment system. "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".

Toyota had three vehicles coming in with "low" rankings, including the Camry SE, Corolla SE and the Toyota Sienna XLE.

"The cars that used the screens and the touch pads were probably the ones that made me feel the most uncomfortable", says Meijias.

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