Touted for their enhancements to vehicle safety and in-vehicle user experience, more and more vehicles offer infotainment systems as a standard feature. Involving multiple menus and the use of voice command functions, however, these systems may serve to increase drivers’ risk of getting into a collision that may result in serious injuries or death for those involved.

Using audio and video interfaces, infotainment systems allow drivers to control and monitor in-vehicle entertainment and information functions from one central unit. For example, drivers may use their infotainment systems to change the radio station, make phone calls, get directions to a specified location and numerous other tasks. Performing these tasks, even if through voice commands, may distract drivers.

The problem of distracted driving

Today’s drivers face numerous distractions on the road. For motorists, distractions include any activities that divert their attention from driving. These may involve acts that take motorists’ eyes off the road, hands off the wheel or minds off operating their vehicles. For instance, texting, making a phone call, talking to a passenger and even taking a drink may distract drivers. Each day in the U.S. about 1,000 people suffer injuries and nine people die as a result of distracted driver-involved auto collisions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Research shows infotainment systems distract drivers

Based on the findings of a recent study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and researchers from the University of Utah, infotainment systems create a potentially unsafe distraction for drivers. The possible safety risk associated with the use of such in-vehicle devices while driving results from the increased cognitive and visual demands placed on drivers. Completing even seemingly simple tasks using such in-vehicle systems may impair motorists’ visual tracking of the road in front of them and cars around them and slows their reaction times, which may contribute to an increased risk of motor vehicle accidents.