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AAA research: Infotainment systems may be more distracting for older drivers

September 24, 2019

Any activity that causes visual, manual, or cognitive distraction can be dangerous and doesn’t always have to include the use of a handheld device. In fact, the same features found in handheld devices are now being built into many new cars. Also known as “infotainment” technology, drivers of new cars are able to make calls, program a GPS, send text messages, and use other apps, either through voice commands or through a touch screen.

Older drivers may be more distracted by infotainment technology

Many drivers today have become savvy with this technology. According to a study conducted by the University of Utah and carried out by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, however, infotainment technology may cause extra distraction among older drivers.

The study included 128 participants who were split up into two age groups: 21-36 and 55-75. Each participant was issued a 2018 vehicle fully loaded with infotainment technology. In the passenger seat, sat a study representative who monitored the drivers and collected data.

While driving a two-mile stretch in a low-traffic neighborhood at 25 mph, each participant was asked to perform a series of tasks using voice-activated commands and touchscreens. These included:

  • Make a phone call
  • Send a text message
  • Program navigation
  • Tune radio

The study found that using infotainment technology caused distraction among both age groups but the 55-75 group needed 4.7-8.6 seconds more time to perform the tasks. In addition, the older participants were found to be less experienced with the technology. The complex menus and voice-activation features proved to be confusing and required more steps to use.

Adjustments that could prevent distracted driving for all drivers

In order to reduce the likelihood of distraction, safety advocates suggest that automakers simplify the menus and voice-activation features. In addition, complex center console controls should be removed entirely and system controls should be altered to allow drivers to keep their eyes on the road.

Until we see these changes in the design of infotainment technology, drivers should only use it for emergency purposes. Otherwise, the features should only be used when parked or pulled over somewhere safe.

If you or a loved one was hurt in a crash caused by a distracted driver, get an experienced Chicago car accident attorney on your side as soon as possible. The legal team at Coplan + Crane fights to hold distracted drivers accountable and bring justice to injured motorists. Learn more about how we can help you and your family. Contact us online to schedule a free case evaluation.