Comparing Driver Distraction Among Infotainment Systems

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The Ohio State Highway Patrol reports that in a single year, more than 13,200 motorists crashed while being distracted by something in their vehicles, resulting in nearly 7,000 injuries and 43 deaths. These crashes are devastating to individuals, families and entire communities.

When it comes to levels of driver distraction leading to serious car accidents in Ohio, not all factors are equal. For instance, we know that while talking to a passenger can be distracting, it isn’t the same as talking on the phone.


As one analysis published in The Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied found, talking on the phone is uniquely distracting because while passengers instinctively stop talking when driving conditions change (and offer an extra set of eyes to alert a driver to a nearly-missed exit or other dangerous driver), those on the phone are removed from the physical environment.

A new driver distraction analysis by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, teaming up with researchers at the University of Utah, concluded that two cell phone provider systems – Google’s Android Auto and Apple CarPlay – are decidedly less distracting to motorists compared to built-in vehicle infotainment systems designed and implemented by auto makers.

The infotainment systems tested included those in five vehicles from the 2017 and 2018 model years. Study authors analyzed the mental and visual demands that were imposed on motorists using these systems, and found that while Google and Apple systems can still spur an unsafe level of driver distraction, they were still decidedly less hazardous than those provided by automakers.

A substantial number of the built-in infotainment systems designed by automakers give drivers the opportunity to carry out tasks that are rather complex, such as sending text messages or setting navigational programs. The systems designed by Android and iPhone allowed some of those same offerings, but performed them on average 24 percent more quickly – a full five seconds faster. That time difference makes a huge difference, as drivers who take their eyes off the road for more than two seconds double their potential risk of a crash.

Although Google and Apple systems are still distracting, they provide a preferable alternative to the in-vehicle navigation technology systems drivers regularly use. None of these options are considered unequivocally “safe,” but those associated with our phones may be considered markedly better options than those built into our vehicles. However, just because these systems are better options doesn’t mean they’re good. Drivers need to take responsibility and avoid any distractions that substantially take away from the important task of safely operating a vehicle.

If you or a loved one was injured in an auto accident caused by a distracted driver, contact Michael D. Christensen Law Offices LLC and find out how we can help you.

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