If you recently purchased a new car, it likely came with built-in technology similar to the features found on a smartphone. This is commonly referred to as "infotainment" technology and gives drivers the luxury of communication, internet features, apps, music streaming, and navigation, without having to pick up a handheld device. Recent research shows that infotainment technology can be just as distracting, however.
Research finds older drivers may not be as infotainment savvy
Recent research conducted by Utah University and endorsed by the AAA Traffic Safety Foundation measured the level of infotainment distraction among two different age groups — 21-36 and 55-75. A total of 128 participants from the two groups were issued vehicles that were manufactured in 2018 and were asked to do the following using voice commands and touch screens:
- Make phone calls
- Send text messages
- Tune the radio
- Program GPS navigation
A study representative sat in the passenger seat to monitor drivers and take notes. Participants performed these tasks while driving for two miles at 25 mph in a residential area with low traffic.
While both age groups experienced some difficulties with performing the tasks and driving, the 55-75 age group found it to be more taxing. That's because, unlike the 21-36 age group, the older participants were less experienced with the technology. Furthermore, performing these tasks required about 4.7 to 8.6 seconds more than the younger participants.
Due to the complex designs of the infotainment systems, the 55-75 age group experienced more visual distractions and reduced response time. What should be a simple task was often complicated by multiple menus and complex voice command features.
Researchers also found that distraction can be reduced by simplifying voice-command features and menus, eliminating complex center console controls, and adjusting system controls in a way that allows drivers to keep their eyes on the road.
Hands on the wheel, eyes on the road
Whether or not automakers will take the results of this study into account has yet to be seen. In the meantime, infotainment distraction can be eliminated by doing the following:
- Parking or pulling over when programming navigation or using other features.
- Having a passenger use touchscreen technology.
- Using only voice commands
Technology may be tempting to use while behind the wheel but drivers have a duty to uphold: keeping their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. Distracted driving has become a growing threat to public safety in Indiana and across the US. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that more than 3,000 people lost their lives in 2017 due to distracted driving.
If you were injured or lost a loved one in a crash with a distracted driver, don't hesitate to discuss this matter with a highly-skilled car accident attorney at Vaughan & Vaughan. Our legal team fights on behalf of injured motorists throughout greater Lafayette, Indiana. Contact us online to schedule your free case evaluation.