Vehicle infotainment systems may increase distracted driving, AAA says

Study said drivers are distracted for an average 40 seconds using the systems.

ByABC News
October 5, 2017, 1:11 PM

— -- New so-called infotainment systems in cars may distract drivers for "potentially dangerous periods of time," AAA said in a study released today.

Drivers that used systems' voice commands and touch screens to program GPS were distracted for an average of about 40 seconds, according to the research.

In that time, driving at only 25 miles an hour, a vehicle travels the length of about four football fields.

"A lot of these tasks, like texting and navigation and so forth, have high visual demand; they're also associated with high mental demand," David Strayer, a psychology professor at the University of Utah, told ABC News' David Kerley.

Touch-screen and voice-controlled systems are "allowing us to do other things besides driving, but the primary task should really be to get from point A to point B safely, he continued. "I think that a substantial amount of the technology in the car is too difficult and too demanding to use."

Of the 30 vehicle systems AAA studied, 23 required high or very high demand on drivers to operate.

Drivers taking their eyes off the road for just two seconds doubles their chances of a crash, AAA said.

Members of the auto industry, who strongly discourage texting and driving, was critical of the new research and methods.

"Automakers have worked for years to help drivers focus on the road," the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers said in a statement to ABC News.

"It’s important to discourage drivers from using portable electronics because they were never designed to be used while driving," the Alliance continued. "Automakers have developed vehicle-integrated systems, to which portable electronics may be connected, that are designed 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."

"Drivers should avoid using hand held devices," the Association of Global Automakers told ABC in a statement, "but rather use in-vehicle systems."