Infotainment systems add fuel to the distracted driving problem

This article looks at two recent studies that show in-car infotainment systems are just as distracting as phones.

Distracted driving is rightly seen as one of the most significant threats on the roads and highways today. However, discussions of distracted driving largely revolve around the role that mobile devices, particularly smartphones, play in that problem. But a recent study by the AAA Foundation shows that distracted driving is a much bigger problem than simply using a smartphone when behind the wheel. In fact, as ABC News reports, that study found that infotainment systems that are built into many new cars are just as distracting as mobile devices, and in some instances even more so.

Distracted for 40 seconds

The AAA study focused on in-car infotainment systems found in 30 different vehicles. The study concluded that 23 of those systems placed a high or very high demand on drivers' attention. Many of those systems had strong visual elements, as well, which required drivers to take their eyes off of the road. Some of the systems also allowed drivers to input commands through the touch screen while driving, similarly to texting and driving.

On average, the research found, drivers took about 40 seconds to program their in-car GPS using either voice commands or the touch screen. A car that is driving at just 25 mph travels the length of four football fields in 40 seconds. Furthermore, a driver doubles their crash risk by taking their eyes off the road for just two seconds.

In-car technology is too complicated

Another recent study, this time by Consumer Reports, also looked at how distracting infotainment systems in cars are. As CBS News points out, that study found that using infotainment systems to adjust the temperature, change the radio station, or adjust the air conditioning can actually be more distracting than the traditional knobs and dials that such systems are replacing. Furthermore, because infotainment systems are becoming so complex and have so many features, they tend to demand far more of a driver's attention, which should otherwise be on the road.

The study's authors point out that many such infotainment systems, because they are hands-free, are often marketed as safety features. But e ven certain safety devices, such as lane departure warnings, need to be set using the infotainment system, a process that itself is distracting and could cause an accident.

Personal injury law

Distracted driving poses a serious threat to the safety of every motorist on the road. For those who have been hurt in an accident that may have been caused by a distracted driver, it is important that they reach out to a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. In most cases, financial compensation may be available to help accident victims recover from the physical, emotional, and financial toll of their accident. A personal injury attorney can help accident victims see what compensation may be available and how they can go about filing a claim.