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Are Infotainment System Causing Distracted Driving Crashes?

When driving a vehicle, it’s been considered acceptable to reach over and tune the radio or to adjust the vehicle’s climate controls. These simplistic tasks usually aren’t enough to take a driver’s attention away from the road, but that’s changed over the years. Now we have cellphones, portable DVD players and portable gaming consoles to divide our focus, but did you ever suspect that your car’s infotainment system may be just as likely to cause distracted driving crashes as these other devices?

Can Infotainment Systems Cause Distracted Driving Crashes?

A recent study released by AAA reveals interesting information that may surprise you. Despite manufacturers claiming to design their infotainment centers to reduce distraction for drivers, this new study says that these systems may actually do the opposite.

Led by University of Utah professor David Strayer, AAA’s Foundation for Traffic Safety has been examining how much vehicles contribute to distracted driving since 2013. And as the years have gone by, the problem of vehicles distracting their drivers has only gotten worse.

The study says that out of the 30 cars and trucks studied this year, only seven did not rate high or very high on a scale measuring how much distraction these vehicles caused drivers. None of the vehicles were rated as requiring a low amount of attention.

The study further discovered that in-vehicle GPS systems tended to be the most distracting devices in vehicle infotainment systems, distracting drivers for up to 40 seconds on average. The runner up for most distracting infotainment option was the texting function. And in case you thought voice control functions could help in reducing these distractions, the study found that voice systems were often too complex—requiring drivers to turn their thoughts away from driving tasks.

In summary, the researchers found that these infotainment systems have turned simple climate and radio adjustments into a complicated mess. Layers of menus and tasks that require more and more thought have been integrated into these systems and it is causing chaos. AAA is recommending that automakers take some of these distracting features out of their vehicle, but with almost 70 of adults in the U.S. demanding these infotainment systems, manufacturers have no reason to reduce these features.

Recent personal injury lawsuits have seen app makers like Snapchat and phone makers like Apple taken to court for creating distractions while people are driving. Could such lawsuits over infotainment systems persuade automakers to reduce the possible distractions these systems can cause? Your Bay Area personal injury law firm—Mary Alexander & Associates—will monitor the situation to let you know about any developments.

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