How Distracting Is Your Infotainment System?
Congratulations – you’ve just plunked down tens of thousands of dollars on a brand new ride with the latest infotainment system included. You know all about the safety ratings of your new ride (OK, maybe you don’t) but do you know how distracting your infotainment system is? That’s a growing concern among federal regulators, consumer safety groups and automobile manufacturers. What good’s a navigation system if it’s going to make you dead on arrival? RELATED: Chrysler 300 has a Superb Infotainment System
Research by federal organizations “suggests that limiting the amount of time the driver takes their eyes off the road or hands off the wheel, with a maximum of two seconds for each input and total of 12 seconds to complete a task.” That’s roughly 190 feet in two seconds, or more than two-tenths of a mile in 12 seconds at 65 mph.
That latter figure isn’t eyes off the road time. It’s the total time you’re taking to complete a task. A Lexus Enform infotainment system pretty much fails that test when it comes to tuning the radio.
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As the folks over at Android Headlines point out, you can’t look at the road and your screen at the same time. Taking your eyes off the road for two seconds, eliminates your safe following distance. As Android Headlines puts it, “…the way some people drive, that could be enough to end a life.”
The same article acknowledges Android Auto or Apple CarPlay are safety concerns. The author adds, “But after using Android Auto for about 3 months now, I think that as long as you’re a responsible driver, you shouldn’t have any issues.”
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So, what about hands-free infotainment systems? Are they safe? Well, they’re safer. As MIT professor Bryan Reimer told the Wall Street Journal, “I would not say voice activation is safe. It is safer than the alternative of doing it with your fingers.”
The WSJ article also says a study by J.D. Power & Associates finds the rate of complaints about built-in voice recognition systems is nearly four times the rate of reported problems with transmissions or cup holders. (People complain that much about cupholders?) Road rage could be caused by bad voice activation. I know I was ready to shoot a certain Lexus Enform system last week.
Is your infotainment system safe? Not if it takes your concentration off the road for two seconds … and even voice commands can distract you from driving. Also, if it’s taking longer than 12 seconds to do basic commands (like find the nearest gas station), it’s also not safe.
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