Are car infotainment systems doing more harm than good?

Posted at 2:12 PM, Oct 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-18 16:25:47-04

MILWAUKEE -- It's a convenience that can kill. Vehicle infotainment systems in newer vehicles have been found to be more distracting than helpful, according to AAA's most recent research study phase.

Not only are they distracting, AAA also found only 24% US adult drivers think infotainment systems work perfectly.  

AAA Communications Director Nick Jarmusz illustrates this point to Milwaukee Area Technical College students using a driving simulator and their cellphones. 
"The cognitive distractions caused by that are still significant. The mental task of giving the voice command or trying to navigate the system can still be very distracting...Just because you have a feature in your vehicle does not necessarily mean it's safe to use," says Jarmusz. 

Through a rating scale,  AAA measured the visual and cognitive demands for 120 adults drivers using interactive technologies to make phone calls, send texts, tune the radio, and program navigation while driving. AAA found programming navigation was the most distracting, taking close to 40 seconds to complete. 

MATC student Michale Phason  used the simulator and agrees that the more technology put near eye level does tend to be a distraction.

"Given the fact that we're in a technology age, I don't think we're going to be able to completely do away with it...just pull over and be safe," says Phason. 

The rating scale surveyed drivers using infotainment systems in 30 different 2017 vehicles. The study rated the demand for interactive technologies from very high to low demand. None of the systems ranked low, but 23 were rated high or very high. 

 But some drivers, like Al Moore, says it's only a matter of time before every car's demand is low. 
 "A lot of new cars' technology have the things that come up on the windshield, so that helps a lot, because you still have your eyes on the road," says Moore.  

It's important to note AAA isn't blaming new cars or their new technologies for future crashes, but rather the increased risks for distracted driving. According to AAA's public opinion survey close to 70% of US adults say they want the new technology in their cars.  Therefore informing the public about the risks and dangers associated with newer, potentially distracting technology is all AAA is doing.

For more information on this survery, click here