Vehicle 'infotainment' systems may increase distracted driving, AAA says

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The auto industry says the new systems are better alternatives for drivers than mobile phones and navigation devices that were not created to be used while driving.

Jake Nelson, AAA's director of traffic safety advocacy and research, said that in all the 30 models of 2017 that were tested, the drivers took their hands and eyes off the steering while using the infotainment system.

Newer infotainment systems often require drivers to avert their eyes from the roads, leading to more unsafe driving.

Subaru's infotainment system uses a 6.2-inch touchscreen, though there's also a 7-inch, which still requires the driver to look away from the road.

For so long, researchers have focused on how cellular phones facilitate a variety of distracted driving behaviors, such as texting and driving. With one in three US adults using infotainment systems while driving, AAA cautions that using these technologies while behind the wheel can have risky consequences. A new study now shows that vehicles themselves can be a distraction.

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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 auto tech.

When driving at 25 miles per hour, a driver can travel the length of four football fields during the time it could take to enter a destination in navigation.

Drivers taking their eyes off the road for just two seconds doubles their chances of a crash, AAA said. None of the systems generated "low" distraction, according to the researchers. Of these 30 vehicles, 23 were found to have "high" or "very high" levels of demand. In 2015, however, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recorded that 3,477 people were killed and around 391,000 were injured in motor vehicles because of distracted drivers.

When it comes to this onboard technology, while almost 70% of U.S. adults say they want it, but only 24 percent feel that the technology works perfectly.

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