AAA: 'Infotainment' centers a major distraction for drivers

The dashboard based systems allow drivers to text use the radio make phone calls or operate a satellite navigation system

In their study, AAA examined 30 new vehicles and assessed the visual and cognitive demands of each vehicle's infotainment system.

One of the causes of dangerously distracted driving may be vehicles themselves.

Researchers say removing eyes from the road for just two seconds doubles the risk of a crash. "I think that a substantial amount of the technology in the auto is too hard and too demanding to use".

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released a report suggesting that the latest infotainment systems in new vehicle promote distracted driving behaviors and on a scale greater than cell phones. They can either keep next generation infotainment products in their cars for driver convenience or modify or eliminate the technology to make the vehicle less likely to have accidents.

Automakers now include more options to allow drivers to use social media, email and text.

Some vehicles now have as many as 50 multi-functional buttons on the steering wheel and dashboard. There are touch screens, voice commands, writing pads, heads-up displays on windshields and mirrors and 3-D computer-generated images.

The auto industry says the new systems are better alternatives for drivers than mobile phones and navigation devices that were not created to be used while driving.

Map shows targeted festival area on Las Vegas strip
But just because the gunfire sounded automatic doesn't necessarily mean that Paddock used automatic weapons. Police believe that Paddock took his own life. "Here's the reason why: Put two and two together".

Programming navigation was the most distracting task, taking an average of 40 seconds for drivers to complete, the group noted.

"Drivers should avoid using hand held devices", the Association of Global Automakers told ABC in a statement, "but rather use in-vehicle systems".

New vehicle infotainment systems take drivers' eyes and attention off the road and their hands off the wheel for potentially unsafe periods of time, according to new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

"Drivers want technology that is safe and easy to use, but numerous features added to infotainment systems today have resulted in overly complex and sometimes frustrating user experiences for drivers", said Marshall Doney, President of the AAA.

Of the 30 systems tested, 23 were considered high or very high demand on drivers.

Joan Lowy is an Associated Press writer.

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