AAA, U of U study safety of car infotainment systems

Jun 27, 2018, 6:45 AM | Updated: 7:56 am
Courtesy AAA

If you use a system in your car to make calls or navigate while driving, a new study should make you pause.

The University of Utah and the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety compared vehicle built-in systems with systems from Apple and Google.

Researchers asked drivers to perform tasks using built-in infotainment systems as well as smartphone-based systems – Apple Carplay and Android Auto.

The goal was to measure the the amount of visual and mental demand on the driver.

“Two of the features that are highest in terms of workload are programming navigation and sending text messages. Those features are best done when the car is stopped,” said University of Utah researcher Dr David Strayer.

“What we found was that both Carplay and Android Auto out-performed the system you would get with the car when you purchased it,” he said.

Using either smartphone systems to make a call was five-seconds faster than the built-in system in the five 2017 and 2018 models tested.

“Even so, some of those features are still too distracting,” said Strayer.

AAA says all of the in-vehicle infotainment systems currently available are more demanding than what they would recommend.

“Things like texting are still very difficult to do, and very distracting no matter what system you are on,” said spokesman Michael Blasky.  “Anytime you are taking your eyes off the road, you are causing yourself to be at risk.”

Blasky said he is encouraged to see many systems now to not allow these tasks when the vehicle is moving.

“Take care of all the tasks that could be distracting before you go out on the road,” he said.

Distracted driving is responsible for more than 390,000 injuries and 3,500 deaths every year.

“Google and Apple are proving that it is possible to reduce the level of demand in-vehicle infotainment technology places on drivers,” said Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “While improvements are necessary before any of the systems can be considered safe to use while driving, this research shows that smartphone-based software has the potential to offer a simpler, more familiar design that is less confusing to drivers, and therefore less demanding.”

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AAA, U of U study safety of car infotainment systems