In the past, most functions in cars were controlled by buttons or levers that we could easily feel without having to look at them. Currently, car manufacturers are trying to reduce the number of buttons, and the control of individual functions is made possible via infotainment. When the driver has to focus on the touch screen, he is not driving. Infotainment in vehicles has been shown to be responsible for more car accidents than alcohol while driving.

In-car infotainment systems distract drivers

This research was conducted by IAM RoadSmart, the largest independent British charity engaged in road safety. Among the most well-known information systems in vehicles are Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. These systems reduce the driver’s response time, more so when alcohol, light drugs or using a smartphone. The study focused on testing motorists’ reaction time while driving. When drivers used infotainment, they stopped looking at the road for up to 16 seconds.

The use of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay while driving was tested on a simulated route. Three runs were made each time. Infotainment was not used on the first drive, voice control was used on the second drive, and touch control was used on the third drive. Both control methods significantly distracted the driver. When using infotainment, drivers have trouble keeping a constant distance from the vehicle and also often drift out of the lane.

Worse than alcohol and cannabis

The graph shows that the continuous use of information systems in the vehicle is more dangerous than driving under the influence of alcohol or light drugs. Using screens while driving will increase reaction time by more than half.

The graph shows how driver’s reaction times slow. Credit: IAM RoadSmart

“We’re now calling on industry and government to openly test and approve such systems and develop consistent standards that genuinely help minimize driver distraction,” said Neil Greig, policy and research director, IAM RoadSmart. “While we would like to see a review of these systems in the future, we’d encourage owners of vehicles fitted with these systems to use them in the safest possible way, including setting everything up before starting a journey.”


Credit: IAM RoadSmart, Pixnio, Pxhere