Numerous infotainment features in most 2017 vehicles are so distracting they should not be enabled while a vehicle is in motion, according to a new study released Thursday by University of Utah researchers.
The new study, conducted by researchers at the University of Utah's School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, assessed 30 2017 model vehicles' infotainment systems and the performance of 120 participants on a residential road with a speed limit of 25 miles per hour.
The study found drivers using voice-based and touch screen features were distracted for more than 40 seconds when completing tasks such sending a text or programming navigation. That's long enough for a vehicle going 25 miles per hour to travel more than a quarter mile - while the driver is preoccupied with their Global Positioning System.
Programming a destination into in-vehicle GPS navigation systems was the most distracting activity, taking drivers an average of 40 seconds to complete the task.
None of the systems put a "low" level of demand on drivers. The scale ranged from low to very high levels of demand.
Marshall Doney, AAA's President and CEO said, "Drivers want technology that is safe and easy to use", but several features in the infotainment system can be complex and frustrate the driver.
Touch-screen and voice-controlled systems are "allowing us to do other things besides driving, but the primary task should really be to get from point A to point B safely, he continued".
Hands-free technology doesn't mean risk free.
AAA has conducted this new research to help automakers and system designers improve the functionality of new infotainment systems and the demand they place on drivers. Deaths involving distracted driving jumped 8.8% to 3,477 in 2015, the latest year in which statistics were available, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
AAA also indicated that driver frustration with these infotainments systems increases cognitive demand and thus raises the potential for distracted driving.
Carmakers are cramming more and more technology into our cars-including the ones we still have to drive.
The CDC says it's not just your cell phone, it's anything that takes your eyes off the wheel.