Distracted driving often involves smartphones. But a new study finds seniors are struggling with the technology built into the dash of many cars.
Infotainment systems have made it easier to find a favorite song or navigate to an address. But a new study from AAA finds the screens can be extremely distracting, especially for seniors.
AAA and the University of Utah tested seniors in several newer cars as they tried to use the technology. William Horrey is with the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. He says, “Drivers will shift their attention back and forth from the driving task to the in vehicle task. If they’re taking long glances inside the cabin, that’s particularly risky.”
Horrey says during testing, drivers aged 55 and older were up to eight seconds slower than millennials when using functions like calling and navigation. That added time can be dangerous. AAA says removing your eyes from the road for just two seconds can double the risk of a crash. And it’s not just touchscreens. Voice commands can lead to distraction and can cause frustration.
Safety experts say pulling over is actually a good idea if the technology is getting too distracting. Many tasks like programming navigation should be done before you start driving. “Certainly there’s a balance between the conveniences that technology affords and the risk associated with it,” according to Horrey.
Safety advocates are encouraging car companies to change infotainment systems to make them less distracting.