Car companies are betting big on the infotainment systems that let users stay connected even when driving. However, these features can distract the driver, putting their lives at risk.

Infotainment Systems
noelsch / Pixabay

According to a study by the American Automobile Association Foundation, usually the driver of a car moving at the speed of 25 miles per hour takes somewhere around 40 seconds to program the navigation system of the car. The study also found that drivers lose their focus up to 27 seconds after sending emails or texts.

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.

Jake Nelson, AAA’s director of traffic safety advocacy and research, said that in all the 30 models of 2017 that were tested, the drivers took their hands and eyes off the steering while using the infotainment system. Drivers get busy using the voice commands, making calls and sending texts along with other interactive technologies.

According to the AAA Study, infotainment systems on cars such as the Tesla Model S, Audi Q7 and Volvo XC60 require ‘very high’ demand on the driver. Other cars such as the Honda Civic Touring and Ridgeline Models, Subaru Crosstek Premium, Mazda 3 Touring and Ford Mustang GT also require the same level of demand. However, the Chevrolet Equinox, Hyundai Santa Fe, Lincoln MKC, Ford F250 XLT and Toyota’s Camry, Corolla and Sienna require only “moderate” driver demand.

David Strayer, the lead scientist in the study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, said that most of the States have a rule against texting behind the wheel, and some require hands-free cellphone use. However, manufacturers still enable the navigation centers and infotainment options when the car is on the move.

“What we’re seeing is that many of these companies have enabled technology that’s very demanding and not consistent with the NHTSA guidelines.”

AAA says that the infotainment systems should only be used for emergencies and driving related purposes. Further, the organization asks the automakers to deactivate the program navigation system for sending texts while driving. And, the infotainment system should be designed in a way that drivers don’t have to focus much on them to operate.

Distracted driving largely goes unreported because most of the drivers involved in the accident do not accept that they were distracted during the driving. In 2015, however, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recorded that 3,477 people were killed and around 391,000 were injured in motor vehicles because of distracted drivers.

Automakers are now not sure which way they should go, Autotrader executive analyst Michelle Krebs tells LATimes. “Consumers tell us they want more and more of these features in their vehicles,” Krebs said, “but accidents are going up, and exactly for this reason — distracted driving.”

In the AAA survey, around 70% of the adults said that they want their vehicles to be fully equipped with the latest technology. However, 24% feel that the technology currently in the car is enough to work perfectly and do not need any advance technology.