AAA: Android Auto, Apple CarPlay less distracting than vehicle infotainment systems

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The following is a news release from AAA Idaho.

IDAHO FALLS — Apple CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto both offer faster navigation features than built-in vehicle infotainment systems, but the improvement still fails to prevent distracted driving, according to AAA’s new study.

In its latest research, the AAA Center for Driving Safety & Technology partnered with the University of Utah to study the effectiveness of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Test drivers who used these systems to program navigation were visually and mentally distracted for 15 fewer seconds than when using a vehicle’s native system.

“AAA’s previous research shows that drivers who take their eyes off the road for more than two seconds double their risk of a crash, so any time savings is a step in the right direction,” says AAA Idaho spokesman Matthew Conde. “That being said, the average time to complete a navigation task only dropped to 33 seconds. A vehicle traveling at 25 mph can cover the length of three football fields in that amount of time, so the level of distraction is still unacceptably high.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving is responsible for more than 390,000 injuries and 3,500 deaths each year. In 2016 – the most recent year available – the Idaho Transportation Department reported mixed results on distracted driving in the Gem State. There were 5,000 distracted driving crashes (a decrease of more than nine percent from the previous year), but the number of fatalities increased by 25 percent to 64 deaths, which highlights the need to take additional action.

While some motorists may assume that a particular infotainment technology, such as hands-free talking, texting, or navigation, is safe to use simply because it’s available, AAA’s latest research emphasizes that no mobile or built-in infotainment system on the market today successfully prevents distracted driving, as all place moderate to very high levels of demand on drivers.

AAA encourages automakers, mobile technology developers and smartphone companies to collaborate in order to better leverage common design features and remove any barriers that would prevent the systems from working together more seamlessly. These companies should also join forces to block certain functionality while the vehicle is in motion.

“One takeaway from AAA’s research is that with increased cooperation, the goal of an infotainment system that is no more distracting than listening to the radio is achievable,” Conde said.

University of Utah lead researcher Dr. David Strayer said, “There has to be care and caution with how people interact with any technology.”

Last year, researchers tested the infotainment systems of 30 new 2017 vehicles. None of them produced a low level of visual and cognitive demand, and 23 generated a high or very high level of demand. This year, ten additional vehicles were tested. Once again, none produced a low level of demand, but 6 out of 10 created a high or very high demand.

Infotainment technologies vary based on vehicle type. While driving, motorists should limit the use of these technologies to legitimate emergencies and for urgent, driving-related purposes.

“AAA will continue to work with major stakeholders to achieve our common safety goals, and eventually, the technology may meet that need,” Conde said. “Until then, it’s up to every individual driver to exercise caution, ditch the distractions, and keep their eyes and attention on the road.”

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