Texting while driving is a well-known distraction for drivers, exponentially increasing the likelihood of a crash. Drivers using in-vehicle technologies like voice-based and touch screen features were visually and mentally distracted for more than 40 seconds when completing tasks like programming navigation or sending a text message. And it's becoming more complicated to use.
Infotainment options now allow drivers to use social media, email and text while behind the wheel.
But a new study from AAA reveals that a driver's greatest distraction could be the one embedded in their dashboard. "And drivers should avoid the temptation to engage with these technologies, especially for non-driving tasks".
"The surprise here is that these are technologies built and marketed as making us safe and less distracted behind the wheel", notes Jake Nelson, AAA's Director of Traffic Safety and Research.
The study released Thursday is the latest by University of Utah professor David Strayer, who has been examining the impact of infotainment systems on safety for AAA's Foundation for Traffic Safety since 2013.
Of the 30 vehicle systems AAA studied, 23 required high or very high demand on drivers to operate. In 2015, however, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recorded that 3,477 people were killed and around 391,000 were injured in motor vehicles because of distracted drivers.
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 auto tech. These include locking out certain features while a vehicle is in motion, including text messaging, entering navigation and social media access. Some automakers already disengage certain infotainment features when the vehicle is moving.
"Drivers want technology that is safe and easy to use, but numerous features added to infotainment systems today have resulted in overly complex and sometimes frustrating user experiences for drivers", said Marshall Doney, President of the AAA. "Drivers should only use these technologies for legitimate emergencies or urgent, driving related purposes".
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