University of Utah psychology professor David Strayer said the study’s results indicate that the complexity of using sat-nav, radios, and hands-free cell phone mirroring while driving can be detrimental to safety.
“We’re putting more and more technology in the car that just does not mix with driving,” Strayer said. “With the best intentions, we will put some technology in the car that we think will make the car safer, but people being people will use that technology in ways that we don’t anticipate.”
The study, performed on behalf of the American Automobile Association Foundation for Traffic Safety, reviewed 30 different car-based infotainments systems.
Participants were asked to engage in four types of tasks using the devices, including making a call, sending a text message, tuning the radio, and programming sat-nav. These were conducted using voice commands, a touchscreen, and other interactive technologies.
The study showed drivers who used voice-based and touchscreen technologies took their hand, eyes, and attention off the road for more than 24 seconds to complete the required tasks.
Programming sat-nav took an average of 40 seconds to complete, with drivers found to be seriously distracted.
A previous study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found the risk of a crash doubled when a driver took their eyes off the road for two seconds.
Strayer said he believed more thought should be given to the design of infotainment systems, and how they may distract drivers.