Which cars are most distracting? AAA study reveals offenders

  • Nathan Bomey
  • USA TODAY
1:05 p.m Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017 Business

Touchscreen systems in many new vehicles are too distracting, putting motorists at risk of crashes, according to a new study funded by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Utah, tested 30 vehicle infotainment systems and found that all of them are distracting to some degree.

Distracted driving is considered a major reason why fatal crashes have increased. The number of deadly crashes involving distracted driving jumped 8.8% to 3,477 in 2015, the latest year in which statistics were available, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

In AAA's study, distraction was "very high" on 12 of systems, "high" on 11 and "moderate" on seven. None of the systems generated "low" distraction, according to the researchers.

Infotainment systems typically provide directions, music, phone capability and radio, among other options.

Jake Nelson, director of traffic safety advocacy and research at AAA, said automakers should improve their systems by preventing people from accessing certain features while the vehicle is in motion.

“These are solvable problems," Nelson said in a statement.

For example, 12 of the 30 vehicles allowed drivers to program directions while operating the car. That takes an average of 40 seconds, which means that drivers travel the length of four football fields when going 25 miles per hour.

The study involved 120 drivers ages 21-36 testing 2017 model-year vehicles.

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