UK study: “Infotainment” more dangerous in cars than texting, booze, drugs

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You hear it a lot: “The roads are getting more dangerous for motorcyclists, thanks to increased texting while driving, and impaired driving.” But according to a study from the UK, there’s an even worse culprit. In-car infotainment.

Specifically, the study from IAM Roadsmart is talking about systems like Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

The study was undertaken by TRL and studied reaction times on a track. Drivers were sent out with a blood-alcohol limit above the legal limit, with cannabis in their system, with both hands-free and handheld phones, with voice-activated infotainment systems (Android Auto, Apple CarPlay) and touchscreen-activated infotainment systems (Android Auto, Apple CarPlay).

According to the findings, the legal blood-alcohol limit was the least impairing factor, slowing down reaction times by 12 per cent. The most impairing factor was touchscreen-activated Apple CarPlay, which slowed down reaction times by 57 per cent.

Both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto also resulted in about a half-metre lane deviation while using the navigation system. Other findings included the discovery road users underestimated their time looking away from the road by as much as five seconds, when using infotainment systems. Touchscreen control seemed to have much more of an effect than voice control; when using touch control, both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay usage resulted in drivers taking their eyes off the road for longer than the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends.

For a decent summary of the study, you can see the published project report here.

10 COMMENTS

  1. Most of the public ignore traffic laws and to expect these twits to accept their civic responsibilities is expecting too, too much. The freewheeling phenomenon rules and street cred has us in it’s icy grip. If our leaders could outline our civic duties, we might thrive, but the current lack of a conscience has us whipped. Technology only works, where a conscience allows sufficient protection. Every Father’s Day most families ignore traffic laws, due to a missing conscience.

  2. Touch screens are cheaper to produce than switches and have the illusion of modern/leading edge design. Thats why they are becoming so prevalent. Can’t stand them myself

    • This is why the economy has issues. The public wants an option for less confusion. Instead of touchscreens they can opt out. The same for ashtrays. These should be mandatory, so that if the vehicle is sold or a smoker is a guest, there will be a way to avoid forest fires by having an ashtray in all vehicles. The car companies want spaceships on our roads and highways and could care less about touch screen confusion and forests erupting in fire. The nerds want to be green but the bells and whistles of computers in cars is most tempting. We’ll never insure self driving cars, but the nerds think the whole concept of streets filled with anarchy fascinating! If the public want something and the business community doesn’t provide it, that sector of the business community is continuously confronted by issues, like recall for instance. A well run economy asks the public what they want and then gives it too them. Simple. Lastly, the delivery business community, can’t stop overlooking it’s lawless delivery scandal. They project profits without understanding the backlash of lawless business practices and their future is unregulated.

  3. Motorcycles aren’t much different today. Look at BMW, most of their bikes have a joystick on the left handlebar to scroll through menus, others aren’t much different. It would be interesting to see a study on motorcyclists riding while scrolling, likely similar results but with likely higher consequences should you drift from your lane.

  4. My impression from renting a lot of rental cars for work is that this is 100% correct. Also, not sure what “infotainment system” the old Ford ranger has in the picture? Perhaps his cassette tape was stuck? 😉

    • A lot of modern cars are terrible as rentals. Takes half an hour just to figure out how to turn the radio on and change the station. IMO touchscreens in cars are really terrible idea.

      • Haha, yes 8-tracks could skip. They could also jam up so badly you’d never get them to work again, hence why you’d see them lying by the side of the road. Jeez I’m old…

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