Marilyn Buskohl
Public Affairs Director
O: (605) 310-4614
C: (605) 367-3964
Marilyn.buskohl@aaasd.org

For more information or to schedule an interview, contact Marilyn Buskohl, Manager, Public and Government Affairs, 605.310.4614 or email marilyn.buskohl@aaasd.org

RELEASE HIGHLIGHTS:

  • 40 seconds – that’s the average time it takes drivers to program navigation using in-vehicle technology, while only 2 seconds of distraction doubles the crash risk.
  • Send is not the end: Researchers also discovered that it can take up to 27 seconds for the impairing effects of mental distraction to subside once a driver stops interacting with technology in the vehicle.
  • Traveling at 25 mph, a driver can travel the length of four football fields during the time it can take to enter a destination in navigation.
  • According to a AAA public opinion survey, nearly 70 percent of U.S. adults say they want new infotainment technology in their vehicle, but only 24 percent feel the technology already works perfectly.
  • Vehicle makes and models matter: distraction levels vary between manufacturers from moderate to very high due to the design of the technology controls.
  • On average, older drivers (ages 55-75) removed their eyes and attention from the road for more than eight seconds longer than younger drivers (ages 21-36) when performing simple tasks.
  • B-roll of study participants illustrating how technology distracts motorists

 

AAA: Vehicle Infotainment Technology Increases Dangers of Driver Distraction

Programming navigation causes over a minute of impairment; just a two-second distraction doubles crash risk

 

July 29, 2019 — New research from AAA finds that the latest in-vehicle infotainment technologies are contributing to dangerous, and potentially deadly, driver distraction. While these technologies improve comfort, and may even extend mobility for some drivers, the demand for driver attention can increase the risk of a crash.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety partnered with researchers from the University of Utah to test the visual and cognitive demand created by the infotainment systems in six 2018 vehicles. Study participants in two age groups (21-36 and 55-75) were required to use voice commands, touch screens and other interactive technologies to make a call, send a text message, tune the radio, or program navigation, all while driving. A total of 128 drivers ages 21-36 and 55-75 participated in the study of six 2018 model-year vehicles.

Among the findings? It takes 40 seconds on average for a motorist to program a navigation system. That’s roughly the time it takes a vehicle to drive the distance of four football fields, traveling at 25 mph. The research results also found that it can take up to 27 seconds for the impairing effects of mental distraction to subside, boosting the distracted time for programming navigation to well over a minute. Yet, taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds has been shown to double a driver’s risk of a crash.


                                            Completion Time by Task

 

 

Audio Entertainment

Calling and Dialing

Text Messaging

Navigation Entry

Younger (21-36 yrs)

Older (55-75 yrs)

18.0 sec

17.7 sec

27.7 sec

31.4 sec

25.4 sec

22.4 sec

33.8 sec

40.0 sec



 

 

Design problem, not an age problem
By 2030, more than one in five drivers on the road will be over the age of 65. With seniors becoming the fastest growing demographic in the U.S., finding ways to design technology to improve their comfort and safety is critical, and may hold the key to enhancing the safe use of this technology for all drivers.

“Voice-command functions found in new in-vehicle technology are intended to help drivers by keeping their eyes and attention on the road,” said Dr. David Yang, Executive Director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “Unfortunately, the complexity and poor design of some of these systems could cause more harm, for older drivers in particular, instead of helping them.”

With the exception of teenagers, older Americans have the highest crash death rate per mile driven. This is not because of a lack of skill, but because older drivers are more fragile and their fatality rates are 17 times higher than those aged 25 to 64 years old.

In the most recent study, researchers found that the technology created potentially unsafe distractions for all drivers, though this safety risk is more pronounced for older adults, who took longer (4.7-8.6 seconds) to complete tasks, experienced slower response times, and increased visual distractions.

On average, older drivers (ages 55-75) removed their eyes and attention from the road for more than eight seconds longer than younger drivers (ages 21-36) when performing simple tasks like programming navigation or tuning the radio using in-vehicle infotainment technology, according to new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

“This is a design problem, not an age problem,” said Jake Nelson, AAA director of traffic safety advocacy and research. “Designing systems to meet the safety and comfort needs of aging drivers would benefit all of us today, and for years to come.”

Specific design changes to in-vehicle infotainment systems, like improving voice-command technology, simplifying software menus, removing complex center console controls, and positioning system controls to allow drivers to keep their eyes on the road, would better meet the needs of older adults and make the systems safer for all drivers.

Level of distraction varied by vehicle
The research found that not all vehicles pose the same level of danger due to their infotainment systems. For example, some systems included multiple menus and cumbersome voice command functions that significantly reduced older drivers’ ability to easily complete seemingly simple tasks. The complex design of the technology found in these vehicles created increased visual and cognitive demand for older drivers.

Motorists frequently misjudge distractions
Personal assessments about distraction caused by in-vehicle technologies are not always accurate. For example, in some cases drivers reported the use of the systems as less demanding even though researchers measured higher levels of demand or longer task completion times. This observation is important because it underscores the issue of drivers not always realizing how distracting and dangerous some behaviors can be while behind the wheel.

This spring, AAA launched a new, multi-year initiative that aims to prevent deaths and injuries as a result of cell phone use by drivers. 

“Don’t Drive Intoxicated – Don’t Drive Intexticated” is the theme of this multimedia traffic safety education campaign created to make distracted driving socially unacceptable.  “AAA has made traffic safety a priority since 1921, working to make roads, vehicles and drivers safer,” said AAA Public Affairs Manager, Marilyn Buskohl. “Through this latest initiative, AAA is committed to changing attitudes and behaviors surrounding the deadly problem of distracted driving.” The public is invited to take the Don’t Drive Intexticated pledge. Visit www.aaa.com/dontdrivedistracted to join this lifesaving effort and take the pledge online.

Tips for avoiding infotainment distractions
Whether you purchase a new vehicle, or rent one while traveling, AAA recommends that all drivers keep the following tips in mind when utilizing infotainment technologies:

  • Avoid interacting with in-vehicle infotainment technology while driving except for legitimate emergencies.
  • Practice using the voice command and touch screen functions when not driving to build comfort in case emergency use is required.
  • Avoid vehicles that require use of a center console controller when using the infotainment system. These kinds of systems are especially distracting and pose greater danger.

The latest report is the seventh phase of distraction research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Visit AAA.com/distraction to learn more.

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TEDx Wilmington Salon

Who's in the Driver's Seat? The Transformation of Transportation

On Tuesday, October 17, 2017, AAA and TEDx Wilmington held the first TEDx Salon dedicated to ideas worth spreading in transportation.

This event had:

  • 12 live talks given by 13 speakers
  • 368 people in attendance at the live event
  • More than 7,500 viewed the event online through Livestream, viewing events, and on the AAA Associate network
  • Online viewers came from all 50 states and approximately 30 countries around the world

View a slideshow from the event

This TEDx WilmingtonSalon was organized in partnership with AAA

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