Distracted driving is responsible for an estimated 390,000 injuries and 3,500 deaths per year. At any given time, there could be any number of distracted drivers on the road. One of the more notable modern distractions is the rise of infotainment systems built into vehicles.
AAA has performed six rounds of research into distracted driving and the way drivers interact with technology, and the latest showed limited promise in the form of smartphone-based systems rather than vehicle-based ones.
Phones in Cars
The most important note from the AAA study is that there is not yet any infotainment system on the market which would be considered fully safe; there are just some systems which are less unsafe than others. As such, the promising smartphone systems point the way to achieving safe infotainment, and are a safer alternative to in-vehicle systems, but they should still be used with caution.
The study tested Google’s Android Auto and Apple’s CarPlay apps against the infotainment systems that manufacturers installed in a few 2017-2018 vehicles. Driver demand was rated largely on the amount of time each device required for drivers to perform specific tasks. For each system, driver demand was ranked into of four categories—Low, Moderate, High, and Very High—for four different tasks, from which an average score was determined for the different tasks drivers completed. These tasks included Navigation, Call/Dial, Text, and Select/Program Audio Entertainment.
The scale was set such that a Low score would be roughly equivalent to listening to the radio or an audiobook while driving, which is the target score of all infotainment systems. No system got a score of Low on any category. However, where native vehicle systems scored either High or Very High on all counts, the mobile apps scored Moderates in Call/Dial and Select/Program Audio Entertainment. The end result was an overall score of Very High driver demand for native systems and Moderate driver demand for both smartphone apps.
AAA states in their report that these smartphone apps provide proof that infotainment systems can be improved, and even point to some ways that improvement can be realized. They urge vehicle manufacturers to work with tech companies to increase the safety of in-vehicle systems and aim for a low driver demand. We agree with AAA’s assessment, and look forward to the day when drivers will be able to access important tools such as live navigation without endangering themselves and others. That being said, the best course of action is always to keep your full attention on the road.
In the meantime, distracted driving is still a danger on our roads, and we will fight for the rights of victims and their families. If you have suffered due to a distracted driver, contact our firm today.