AAA: 'Infotainment' centers a major distraction for drivers

AAA: 'Infotainment' centers a major distraction for drivers

AAA: 'Infotainment' centers a major distraction for drivers

We usually associate distracted driving with talking or texting behind the wheel, but now there is a new concern - technology built right into your dash.

New vehicle infotainment systems take drivers' eyes and attention off the road and hands off the wheel for potentially risky periods of time, according to new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

Researchers had two dozen volunteers test 30 different vehicles on a residential road.

"Drivers want technology that is safe and easy to use, but numerous features added to infotainment systems today have resulted in overly complex and sometimes frustrating user experiences for drivers", said Marshall Doney, AAA's president and CEO.

The study found, for instance, that something as common as entering navigation information could distract a driver for as much as 40 seconds when using some of the latest vehicle tech.

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"A lot of these tasks, like texting and navigation and so forth, have high visual demand; they're also associated with high mental demand", David Strayer, a psychology professor at the University of Utah, told ABC News' David Kerley. However, that may be more than offset by infotainment systems, according to new research.

Ricardo Meijias took part in the research and almost missed a stop sign while using a touch screen. However, 24% feel that the technology now in the vehicle is enough to work perfectly and do not need any advance technology.

As cars evolve and technology becomes more advanced, entertainment consoles are becoming increasingly complex. "It just took the drivers eyes of the road and their mind off the drive for far too long".

To lower risk and make systems safer, AAA recommends that automakers follow the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's voluntary guidelines. He's been examining the impact of infotainment systems on safety since 2013.

Some automakers have already disabled certain infotainment features when the vehicle is in drive.

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