Drivers who use in-vehicle infotainment systems (IVI) systems can take as long as 27 seconds to return their full attention to the road and driving after interacting with these systems, studies commissioned by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety have recently revealed.
In fact, these studies, conducted at the University of Utah, analyzed motorists’ interactions with IVI systems from a range of vehicles to evaluate:
- How difficult or easy each of these systems are to use
- How helpful versus distracting infotainment systems ultimately are.
What Researchers Found
- The more complicated an IVI system’s commands were, the more likely those systems were to distract drivers.
- Even when drivers issue the right commands to IVI systems, these systems can be distracting. That’s because the systems can misinterpret drivers and fail to carry out the command. This can end up creating lengthy distractions (because the average driver will try to figure out what’s wrong and fix it).
- Older drivers tended to become more distracted by IVI systems, as they usually have more difficulty fully returning their attention to the road.
- The IVI system that was the most distracting for drivers (among those tested by researchers) was the one in the Mazda6.
- The systems that researchers found to be the least distracting for drivers (again, among those tested) included those on the Toyota 4Runner, the Chevrolet Equinox, and the Buick Lacrosse.
- Even the least distracting systems still distracted drivers for at least 15 seconds.
Given that IVI systems have been introduced as a way to try to limit drivers’ distractions, these findings are pretty interesting – if not noteworthy for transportation safety regulators and lawmakers, AAA says. In fact, AAA plans to share its findings with lawmakers soon. In the meantime, it warns that motorists should operate IVI systems with caution.
Commenting on an unfortunate reality about distracted driving, AAA President Marshall Doney has stated, “The reality is that mental distractions persist and can affect driver attention even after the light turns green.”
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