AAA Study Finds in-Vehicle Technology a Big Distraction for Older Drivers

Posted on behalf of Jeff Pitman on July 29, 2019 in Car Accidents
Updated on April 25, 2024

lady drivingThere is no doubt that technology simplifies our daily tasks, but when it comes to driving, is it doing more harm than good? The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety seems to think so, especially when it comes to older drivers on the road.

New research conducted by the AAA Foundation found that when performing in-vehicle infotainment tasks like tuning the radio or using the navigation system, older drivers ages 55 – 75, took their eyes off the road much longer than younger drivers between ages 21 and 36.

Study Results

The AAA Foundation and the University of Utah conducted a study of visual and cognitive demands placed on drivers by infotainment technology in six 2018-model-year vehicles. Study participants were in two age groups: ages 21-35 and ages 55-75.

The study required participants to use the infotainment’s voice commands, touch screens and other features to make a call, send a text message, program navigation or tune the radio while driving.

The results of the study show that the technology created unsafe distractions for all drivers, but especially for the people in the older age group who took longer to complete the tasks in comparison to younger drivers.

On average, while using the infotainment’s radio feature, the younger group completed the task in 18.0 seconds, while the older group took 25.4 seconds. While inputting a navigation entry, the younger group completed the task in 31.4 seconds and the older group finished in 40.0 seconds.

The technology creates more of a visual and cognitive demand for older drivers. Requiring older drivers to take their eyes off the road for more than eight seconds longer than younger drivers.

However, AAA Director of Traffic Safety Advocacy Research, Jake Nelson, believes the problem boils down to the poor design of infotainments rather than the age of the driver. He argues that designing systems to meet the safety and comfort needs of aging drivers would benefit all drivers for years to come.

AAA Tips on Using Vehicle Infotainment Systems

If buying or renting a vehicle equipped with an infotainment system, the AAA Foundation recommends the following:

  • Practice using the system before driving to familiarize yourself with touch screen and voice command technology.
  • Avoid using the in-vehicle infotainment technology while driving to avoid potential accidents.
  • Avoid vehicles that require the use of a center console controller while using the technology as these are especially distracting.

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