AAA Report: In-Vehicle Infotainment Systems Prove Distracting Safety Risks

Max Meyers
Max is a Kirkland personal injury attorney handling cases in Seattle, King County & surrounding in WA State.

In-Vehicle Infotainment SystemToday’s new cars come with a suite of features that can distract drivers, allowing them to multitask while behind the wheel. While many of the in-vehicle infotainment system (IVIS) functions - such as navigation features and voice commands to send text messages or check social media - can be useful, the passenger should interact with them, not the driver. 

The American Automobile Association (AAA) released a report "Visual and Cognitive Demands of Using In-Vehicle Infotainment Systems" that studied and compared the IVIS of 30 different new 2017 vehicles. All 24 participants drove each of the 30 vehicles. AAA compiled metrics to determine the level of visual and cognitive demand the IVIS of each vehicle required.

It found that a poorly designed IVIS causes drivers to devote a higher level of visual attention (looking away from the road and at the IVIS) and cognitive function (having to think about the IVIS rather than traffic and road conditions) and resulted in more significant driver distraction, which decreased safety. Twenty-three of the 30 vehicles tested created high to very high levels of demand, while the other seven created moderate demand on drivers. No vehicle's IVIS created a low level of demand.

What Are In-Vehicle Infotainment Systems?

In-vehicle infotainment (i.e., information and entertainment) systems vary from vehicle to vehicle. Most in-vehicle infotainment systems allow users to perform some combination of the following tasks while driving:

  • Read and respond to emails
  • Interact with social media
  • Receive and make phone calls
  • Get directions and see maps from a GPS navigation system
  • Listen to music and podcasts
  • Go online and perform internet searches

Which Functions of In-Vehicle Infotainment Systems Are Most Distracting?

The AAA report found navigation tasks to be the most demanding of all the distractions studied. The report also found text messaging to be more distracting than tuning the radio or making a phone call.

Further, the study found tuning the radio and navigation tasks were greater visual distractions than making a phone call and text messaging. Text messaging and navigation tasks took longer to complete than tuning the radio or making a phone call.

All tasks the report studied were associated with significant cognitive demand.

The study also found that voice commands created less visual distraction than manually controlling the infotainment system. However, voice commands required longer interaction times, which offset the lower visual distraction.

How Can You Prevent Being Distracted by In-Vehicle Infotainment Systems?

Distracted driving is preventable. In-vehicle infotainment systems, while they may seem convenient, can be the source of great distraction for drivers.  Follow these safety steps to avoid an accident caused by your in-vehicle infotainment system:

  • Do not use your in-vehicle infotainment system while driving. Some vehicles block certain functions while the car is moving. Even if yours does not block you from your infotainment system while driving, avoid using it until it is safe to do so.
  • Key in your navigation system information before driving. If your destination changes, pull over to a safe place to program the new location. If you have a passenger, have her operate the navigation system for you.
  • Do not text while driving, even if you can do so by voice command. Pull over safely to read or write text messages, or have a passenger send and read text messages for you.
  • Keep your eyes on the road. Even glancing away from the road for just a second or two is dangerous and could lead to an accident.
  • Consider using steering wheel-mounted controls for the radio and other IVIS functions if your car has these features. These may allow you to keep your eyes on the road and hands on the wheel.
  • Program pre-set radio stations to minimize the amount of time and attention it takes to change radio stations. Just be sure to program the radio stations when you are not driving.

If you suffer injuries in a car accident that another party causes, contact Max Meyers Law for help with your claim. Call us today at 425-242-5595 to set up a free consultation.

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