How that shiny new technology in your vehicle could make you crash

Oct 07, 2017, 00:18
How that shiny new technology in your vehicle could make you crash

The infotainment technology that automakers are cramming into the dashboard of new vehicles is making drivers take their eyes off the road and hands off the wheel for dangerously long periods of time, an AAA study says.

The AAA's Foundation for Traffic Safety commissioned the study, and they have found the results to be alarming. "The researchers have found that all models were at least 'moderately distracting" because of the opportunities provided to the driver in the cabin.

Study participants were required to use 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 down the road, in 30 new 2017 vehicles.

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

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Researchers said that most infotainment systems tested could be made safer by following federal recommendations such as locking out text, social media, and navigation inputs while the auto is in motion. None of the vehicle systems tested were categorizes as low demand, seven of the systems produced moderate demand, 11 systems commandeered high demand and 12 systems very high demand. With one in three USA adults using infotainment systems while driving, AAA cautions that using these technologies while behind the wheel can have risky consequences. The research consisted of 120 drivers between the ages of 21 and 36.

The auto industry says the new systems are better alternatives for drivers than mobile phones and navigation devices that were not created to be used while driving.

Even hands-free technology, which is meant to be safer, can create mental and visual distractions for the driver, the study found.

When it comes to this onboard technology, while almost 70% of U.S. adults say they want it, but only 24 percent feel that the technology works perfectly.

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The study also indicated that the single most distracting task in terms of driver engagement was programming the navigation system.

Creature comforts inside automobiles are becoming increasingly sophisticated, with a larger emphasis placed on the infotainment system.

Some automakers have already disabled certain infotainment features when the vehicle is in drive.

The knobs and buttons that were once ubiquitous in cars have given way to a touch screen that allows drivers to use social media, email, and text - but the technology can be complicated to use.

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AAA said drivers should use infotainment technologies "only for legitimate emergencies or urgent, driving-related purposes".

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