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Even Least Distracting In-Vehicle Entertainment Systems Can Pose a Dangerous Distraction

Navigation in car

Most drivers have learned of the risks posed by texting or reading email while behind the wheel and have adapted to using hands-free systems or voice-activated phone software in order to comply with laws on phone use and stay safe. However, recent research shows that distractions for those behind the wheel last even longer than previously believed, making hands-free systems less of a boost to safety than previously thought.

Researchers at the University of Utah, along with the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, took a look at ten of the most recently-developed in-vehicle entertainment systems in popular vehicles, along with three phone systems that enable voice control over phone functions. The study looked broadly at the effect of distractions on drivers, as well as the variations among the systems in the length and severity of the distraction caused. As a baseline, the researchers measured individuals behind the wheel in simulated driving experiments as they completed certain tasks, such as listening to talk radio, changing the station, or completing complex problems. The team set a distraction scale from 1 to 5, with 1.2 being equivalent to listening to the radio while driving, and 5 being like driving while solving a math problem and memorizing a list of words at the same time.

The researchers found that the 2015 Mazda 6’s in-vehicle entertainment system had the most problematically-high score, earning a 4.6 out of 5. Microsoft’s Cortana voice-recognition software was the worst rated among phone systems, scoring a 3.8 out of 5. More problematic still is the finding that drivers who issued a voice command of any sort to their voice-activated systems required a full 27 seconds to refocus their full attention to the task of driving. This length of time would be sufficient for a driver traveling at 25 mph to cover a length of road equivalent to three football fields, and prevent that driver from seeing many possible safety hazards along the way.

If you’ve been injured in an accident with a distracted driver in New York, seek talented legal help to ensure that you receive the full compensation you’re owed for your medical expenses and lost wages by contacting knowledgeable Hudson Valley personal injury law firm Ingber & Provost for a consultation on your claims, at 1-866-733-2720.