AAA: Cars that make driving dangerous

9:14 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017 Business
Photo Illustration by NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

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

New research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety shows that drivers using in-vehicle technologies — like voice-activated and touch-screen features — were visually and mentally distracted for more than 40 seconds.

Removing eyes from the road for just two seconds doubles the risk for a crash, according to AAA’s earlier research. With one in three U.S. adults using infotainment systems while driving, AAA cautions that using these technologies while behind the wheel can have “dangerous consequences.”

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“Some in-vehicle technology can create unsafe situations for drivers on the road by increasing the time they spend with their eyes and attention off the road and hands off the wheel,” David Yang, executive director of the AAA foundation, said in an announcement.

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The foundation commissioned researchers from the University of Utah to examine the visual and cognitive demand as well as the time it took drivers to complete a task using the infotainment systems in 30 new 2017 vehicles.

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Programming navigation was the most distracting task, taking an average of 40 seconds for drivers to complete. When driving at 25 mph, a driver can travel the length of four football fields during the time it could take to enter a destination in navigation — all while distracted from the important task of driving.

Programming navigation while driving was available in 12 of the 30 vehicle systems tested.

“I rented a car just recently,” University of Utah researcher David Strayer recently told this news outlet. “I think it had 50 buttons, 50 multi-function buttons. And Lord help you if you hit the wrong button. It could affect traction and steering.”

“We’re off the rails in terms of the level of distractions we’re seeing,” he said.