AAA says that in-vehicle infotainment systems are more distracting for older drivers
AAA has found that simplifying designs of “in-vehicle infotainment systems" could help drivers, especially older ones, avoid crashes.
Drivers taking their eyes off the road for just two seconds doubles the risk of a crash. Technology intended for progress backfires if a driver finds it too complicated to tune a radio or program a navigation system, according to AAA.
“Infotainment,” of course, is the combination of “information” and “entertainment.” According to Merriam-Webster, “People in the automotive industry have recently begun using ‘infotainment’ to refer to the state-of-the-art multimedia technologies (such as GPS systems and Internet radio) now available to drivers at the push of a button.”
AAA said the problem is that this technology often requires more than just a driver pushing a button. The complexity and poor design of some of these systems could cause more harm than help for older drivers.
What did a AAA Foundation study show?
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety did a study with University of Utah researchers to test the visual and cognitive demand required to use 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 participated in the study.
The AAA evaluation was done on a two-mile stretch of residential road with a posted speed limit of 25 mph and generally low traffic. A study representative rode in the passenger seat during the drives to monitor safety and collect data.
Participants drove the route and repeated certain tasks several times on each drive.
How are older drivers impacted?
Researchers found that the technology created potentially unsafe distractions for all drivers but the risk is more pronounced for older drivers. They took 4.7 seconds to 8.6 seconds longer than younger drivers to use audio entertainment, dial a phone, send a text message and enter navigational information.
Older drivers also experienced slower response times and increased visual distractions than younger drivers because of the complex design of the technology.
For example, some systems included multiple menus and cumbersome voice command functions that significantly reduced older drivers’ ability to complete seemingly simple tasks easily.
With in-vehicle infotainment systems distracting for older drivers, making the following design changes could increase safety for all drivers:
- Improve voice-command technology
- Simplify software menus
- Remove complex center console controls
- Position system controls to allow drivers to keep their eyes on the road
Safety tips for older drivers
Many of the challenges faced by older drivers stem from the natural decline in cognitive and physical abilities associated with aging. That’s according to the AAA-University of Utah study “Age-Related Differences in the Cognitive, Visual and Temporal Demands of In-Vehicle Information Systems.”
AAA recommends that all drivers, especially older ones, keep these tips in mind:
- 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. Such systems are especially distracting and can be dangerous.
“This is a design problem, not an age problem,” AAA official Jake Nelson said.
Contact Law Offices Of Brent C. Miller in Florida today for help with crashes related to distractions of in-vehicle infotainment systems and for help with all car, truck and motorcycle crashes.