New Car Tech Can Lead To Distracted Driving

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"Automakers have developed vehicle-integrated systems, to which portable electronics may be connected, that are created to be used in the driving environment and require driver attention that is comparable to tuning the radio or adjusting climate controls, which have always been considered baseline acceptable behaviors while driving".

David Strayer, the lead scientist in the study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, said that most of the States have a rule against texting behind the wheel, and some require hands-free cellphone use.

The knobs and buttons that were once ubiquitous in cars have given way to a touch screen that allows drivers to use social media, email, and text - but the technology can be complicated to use.

"We're off the rails in terms of the level of distractions we're seeing", he said. "And drivers should avoid the temptation to engage with these technologies, especially for non-driving tasks".

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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In their study, AAA examined 30 new vehicles and assessed the visual and cognitive demands of each vehicle's infotainment system.

Of the 30 systems tested, 23 were considered high or very high demand on drivers.

Removing eyes from the road for just two seconds doubles the risk for a crash, according to AAA's earlier research. These include locking out certain features while a auto is in motion, including text messaging, entering navigation and social media access. Deaths involving distracted driving jumped 8.8% to 3,477 in 2015, the latest year in which statistics were available, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Some automakers already disengage certain infotainment features when the vehicle is moving.

Marshall Doney, AAA's President and CEO said, "Drivers want technology that is safe and easy to use", but several features in the infotainment system can be complex and frustrate the driver. "Drivers should only use these technologies for legitimate emergencies or urgent, driving related purposes".

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