Sci-tech

Danger behind the wheel: High tech distractions

Danger behind the wheel: High tech distractions

But a new study from the American Automotive Association found that these infotainment systems are actually very distracting-and even downright unsafe.

AAA conducted this new research to help automakers and system designers improve the functionality of new infotainment systems and their demand on drivers. And it's becoming more complicated to use. Cars used to have a few buttons and knobs. There are touch screens, voice commands, writing pads, heads-up displays on windshields and mirrors and 3-D computer-generated images. New technology on steering wheels and on dashboards, including the ability to surf the Web, are causing unprecedented levels of driver distraction.

Operating an infotainment system while driving is legal in the United Kingdom, however last night the RAC warned drivers against using technology while on the move.

The manufacturers of these vehicles face a hard decision.

New vehicle infotainment systems take drivers' eyes and attention off the road and hands off the wheel for potentially risky periods of time, according to new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The tasks included making calls, sending a text message, changing the radio and programming navigation while driving. Seven were rated "moderate".

A total of 120 drivers ages 21-36 participated in the study of 30 new 2017 model-year vehicles. That's long enough for a vehicle going 25 miles per hour to travel more than a quarter mile - while the driver is preoccupied with their Global Positioning System.

Removing eyes from the road for just two seconds doubles the risk for a crash, according to AAA's earlier research. Twelve of the 30 vehicles allow navigation destinations to be entered while driving; for safety, AAA recommends locking out this functionality while the auto is in motion. However, the ability to program navigation while driving was available in 12 vehicles in the study.

Some automakers have already disabled certain infotainment features when the vehicle is in drive. The worst culprits were navigation tasks, which distracted drivers for up to 40 seconds.

"We're putting more and more technology in the vehicle that just does not mix with driving", Strayer said.

With one in three US adults using infotainment systems while driving, AAA cautions drivers that using these technologies while behind the wheel can have risky consequences.


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