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Tampa, FL – Apple CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto are less distracting to drivers when compared to built-in vehicle infotainment systems designed by automakers, according to new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
While many of today’s infotainment systems create potentially unsafe levels of distraction by allowing drivers to perform complex tasks like texting or dialing, drivers using CarPlay and Android Auto to program navigation were visually and mentally distracted for 15 fewer seconds than when using the vehicle’s native system.
This difference is critical, as drivers who take their eyes off the road for more than two seconds double their risk of a crash.
AAA is encouraged by these findings, as they indicate that popular infotainment systems can be designed in a way that helps reduce driver distraction, which is responsible for more than 390,000 injuries and 3,500 deaths every year.
“Google and Apple are proving that it is possible to reduce the level of demand in-vehicle infotainment technology places on drivers,” said Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “While improvements are necessary before any of the systems can be considered safe to use while driving, this research shows that smartphone-based software has the potential to offer a simpler, more familiar design that is less confusing to drivers, and therefore less demanding.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety teamed with researchers from the University of Utah to evaluate five vehicles – 2017 and 2018 models – to determine the amount of visual and mental demand placed on drivers by CarPlay, Android Auto and each vehicle’s native infotainment system.
CarPlay and Android Auto’s software use cloud-based voice technology like Siri and Google Assistant, which adapt to a user’s voice over time—resulting in faster system response times. While both of these systems can still create potentially unsafe levels of distraction and should not be used to perform complex tasks when behind the wheel, they significantly decrease the demand placed on drivers compared to similar technologies offered by automakers.
A low level of demand equates to listening to the radio or an audiobook, while very high demand equates to an industry standard that produces demand similar to balancing a checkbook while driving. Both CarPlay and Android Auto generated an overall moderate level of demand while the native vehicle systems created very high levels of demand for drivers.
AAA recommends that industry strive to design in-vehicle technology systems that do not exceed a low level of demand.
“Automakers are experts at building safer cars, but Google and Apple are more skilled at building safer vehicle infotainment technology,” said Marshall Doney, AAA’s president and CEO. “By leveraging their strengths, the two industries must work together to significantly improve the design, functionality and safety of these technologies.”
AAA cautions that not all vehicles are created equal when examining the overall performance of CarPlay and Android Auto. The interface design of some vehicles’ native systems resulted in additional menus and text on vehicle touchscreen displays, which increases the overall workload on drivers. Each vehicle’s system also influenced what features were or were not locked out while the vehicle was in motion when using Android Auto and CarPlay.
For example, some vehicles allowed drivers to access their entire contact list when calling or texting, while others limited the number of contacts shown or completely blocked access – resulting in the smartphone-based systems performing differently across various vehicle models.
AAA urges drivers not to use in-vehicle infotainment technology to perform non-driving related tasks when behind the wheel to avoid driving while distracted.
Locking out high-demand functions such as programming navigation and text messaging can significantly reduce the level of demand created by in-vehicle infotainment technology, a step recommended by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Since the vehicle’s software influences which features are locked out, it is important that automakers and software designers work together to improve the safety of in-vehicle infotainment technology.
“AAA is sharing this new research with automakers and system designers to help advance the dialogue about ways to improve the functionality and design of new infotainment systems and the demand they place on drivers,” continued Doney. “By working together to leverage the design benefits of CarPlay and Android Auto, and addressing the issues that prevent the software from effectively interacting with a vehicle’s system, automakers and smartphone companies can improve the driving experience and limit distraction on the road.”
Expanding on research released in October 2017, AAA also evaluated distraction levels caused by built-in (native) infotainment systems in 10 new 2017/2018 vehicles. A total of 76 drivers ages 21-35 participated in the study of these additional vehicles. Research found that none of the 10 vehicle infotainment systems produced low demand, while six systems generated high or very high levels of demand on drivers:
The latest report is the sixth phase of distraction research from AAA’s Center for Driving Safety and Technology. The Center was created in 2013 with the goal of studying the safety implications of how drivers interact with new vehicle technologies when behind the wheel.
Visit AAA.com/distraction to learn more.
About AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety
Established in 1947 by AAA, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a not-for-profit, publicly funded, 501(c)(3) charitable research and educational organization. The AAA Foundation’s mission is to prevent traffic deaths and injuries by conducting research into their causes and by educating the public about strategies to prevent crashes and reduce injuries when they do occur. This research is used to develop educational materials for drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists and other road users.
About The Auto Club Group
The Auto Club Group (ACG) is the second largest AAA club in North America. ACG and its affiliates provide membership, insurance, financial services and travel offerings to over 9.5 million members across eleven states and two U.S. territories including Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands; most of Illinois and Minnesota; and a portion of Indiana.
ACG belongs to the national AAA federation with more than 58 million members in the United States and Canada and whose mission includes protecting and advancing freedom of mobility and improving traffic safety. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel, and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android.
TopicsAAA, AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Google, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, NHTSA, Smartphone, Stephanie Milani, Tampa FL, Texting, The Auto Club Group, University of Utah
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