New Study Shows Vehicle Infotainment Systems are Significant Distraction for Drivers

infotainment system in carMany new cars are equipped with infotainment systems designed to provide directions and connect to drivers' smartphones to play music, text, and use social media applications, such as Twitter and Facebook. A new study revealed that these systems are major distractions and could be increasing the risk of distracted driving car accidents. The research was commissioned by the American Automobile Association (AAA) Foundation for Traffic Safety.

The study, titled Visual and Cognitive Demands of Using In-Vehicle Infotainment Systems, was done by researchers at the University of Utah who attempted to gauge the level of distraction created by the infotainment systems in 30 vehicles operated by 120 drivers between the ages of 21 and 36.

Research Findings

Researchers found that the infotainment systems in 12 of the 30 vehicles created a very high level of distraction. They described the systems in 11 cars as creating a high level of distraction, while the systems in seven cars were found to be moderately distracting.

Very high-level distraction systems in the study allowed drivers to program directions while driving. This action takes 40 seconds on average. If the car is traveling at 25 miles per hour, it will travel the length of three football fields in that duration. Even if the focus shifts back to the road for some of that time, the driver's concentration will be divided, which could increase the risk of a distracted driving accident. These infotainment systems can also be used to send emails or text messages, which can distract drivers for up to 27 seconds.

The vehicles from the study are listed below:

Vehicles with Very High Distraction

  • Audi Q7 QPP
  • Chrysler 300 C
  • Dodge Durango GT
  • Ford Mustang GT
  • GMC Yukon SLT
  • Honda Civic Touring
  • Honda Ridgeline RTL-E
  • Mazda3 Touring
  • Nissan Armada SV
  • Subaru Crosstrek Premium
  • Tesla Model S
  • Volvo XC60 T5 Inscription

Vehicles with High Distraction

  • Cadillac XT5 Luxury
  • Chevrolet Traverse LT
  • Dodge Ram 1500
  • Ford Fusion Titanium
  • Hyundai Sonata Base
  • Infiniti Q50 Premium
  • Jeep Compass Sport
  • Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited
  • Kia Sorento LX
  • Nissan Maxima SV
  • Toyota Rav 4 XLE

Vehicles with Moderate Distraction

  • Chevrolet Equinox LT
  • Ford F250 XLT
  • Hyundai Santa Fe Sport
  • Lincoln MKC Premiere
  • Toyota Camry SE
  • Toyota Corolla SE
  • Toyota Sienna XLE

How to Avoid Distracted Driving

Distractions from infotainment systems could potentially be reduced if automakers design distracting features to not operate while vehicles are in motion, according to Jake Nelson, the director of traffic safety advocacy and research at AAA. However, individual drivers can also prevent distracted driving and reduce the chances of taking their eyes and concentration off the road.

  • Use Your Cellphone Before Your Drive – If you need to use your cellphone to call someone, send a text message, use social media or program a GPS device, do so before you start driving. Do not be fooled by hands-free devices, you can still be distracted even if you are not using your hands. If something comes up and you need to make a call or send a text, safely pull off the road before doing so.
  • Have Passengers Make Calls if Necessary – If you absolutely need to send a text, ask a passenger to do so. That way, you can keep your eyes and concentration on the road where they belong.
  • Avoid In-Depth or Stressful Conversation with Passengers – This can happen when friends are arguing or parents are angry with their children who are in the car with them. These conversations could cause you to lose some level of concentration on your driving. For everyone's safety, pause the conversation until after you reach your destination.
  • If You Drop Something, Just Leave It - Reaching down for something is a common distraction for drivers. Unless the object is a safety hazard, you should just leave it alone. If you have passengers, ask them to pick it up.
  • Do Not Eat While Driving – People often eat while driving to attempt to save time. However, spilling food or a drink while driving often causes distracted driving.

Taking these and other steps are crucial in helping to prevent distracted driving. You can only process so much information at one time, and every activity that pulls your attention away from the road could increase your risk of a distracted driving crash.

Contact a Car Accident Attorney Today

Distracted driving can cause accidents with severe injuries that create mounting medical expenses, lost wages and other damages. If you have been injured in a distracted driving car accident, contact our experienced car accident attorneys for a free consultation to discuss your legal options. The Sacramento personal injury lawyers at The Arnold Law Firm have decades of combined experience and are prepared to pursue the compensation you deserve.

Call (916) 777-7777 or complete a Free Case Evaluation form.