Posts Tagged ‘touchscreen’

New AAA Foundation research suggests focusing on older drivers could hold the key to safer in-vehicle technology for everyone

Tamra JohnsonWASHINGTON, D.C. (July 25, 2019) – New in-vehicle infotainment technology has the potential to increase comfort and extend mobility for older drivers, but first it has to stop distracting them. On average, older drivers (ages 55-75) removed their eyes and attention from the road for more than eight seconds longer than younger drivers (ages 21-36) when performing simple tasks like programming navigation or tuning the radio using in-vehicle infotainment technology, according to new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds doubles a driver’s risk of a crash.

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“Voice-command functions found in new in-vehicle technology are intended to help drivers by keeping their eyes and attention on the road,” said Dr. David Yang, Executive Director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “Unfortunately, the complexity and poor design of some of these systems could cause more harm for older drivers, in particular, instead of helping them.”

By 2030, more than one in five drivers on the road will be over the age of 65. With seniors becoming the fastest growing demographic in the U.S., finding ways to design technology to improve their comfort and safety is critical and may hold the key to enhancing the safe use of this technology for all drivers.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety partnered with researchers from the University of Utah to test the visual and cognitive demand created by the infotainment systems in six 2018 vehicles. Study participants in two age groups (21-36 and 55-75) were required to use voice commands, touch screens and other interactive technologies to make a call, send a text message, tune the radio, or program navigation, all while driving.

Researchers found that the technology created potentially unsafe distractions for all drivers, though this safety risk is more pronounced for older adults, who took longer (4.7-8.6 seconds) to complete tasks, experienced slower response times, and increased visual distractions.

Completion Time by Task Type

  Audio Entertainment Calling and Dialing Text Messaging Navigation Entry
Younger (21-36 yrs) 18.0 sec 17.7 sec 27.7 sec 31.4 sec
Older (55-75 yrs) 25.4 sec 22.4 sec 33.8 sec 40.0 sec

The complex design of the technology created increased visual and cognitive demand for older drivers. For example, some systems included multiple menus and cumbersome voice command functions that significantly reduced older drivers’ ability to easily complete seemingly simple tasks.

Specific design changes to in-vehicle infotainment systems, like improving voice-command technology, simplifying software menus, removing complex center console controls, and positioning system controls to allow drivers to keep their eyes on the road, would better meet the needs of older adults and make the systems safer for all drivers.

“This is a design problem, not an age problem,” said Jake Nelson, AAA director of traffic safety advocacy and research. “Designing systems to meet the safety and comfort needs of aging drivers would benefit all of us today, and for years to come.”

Personal assessments about distraction caused by in-vehicle technologies are not always accurate. For example, in some cases drivers reported the use of the systems as less demanding even though researchers measured higher levels of demand or longer task completion times.

Whether you purchase a new vehicle, or rent one while traveling, AAA recommends that all drivers, especially older drivers, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Avoid interacting with in-vehicle infotainment technology while driving except for legitimate emergencies.
  • Practice using the voice command and touch screen functions when not driving to build comfort in case emergency use is required.
  • Avoid vehicles that require use of a center console controller when using the infotainment system. These kinds of systems are especially distracting, and potentially dangerous.

A total of 128 drivers ages 21-36 and 55-75 participated in the study of six 2018 model-year vehicles. The latest report is the seventh phase of distraction research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Visit AAA.com/distraction to learn more.

About AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety: Established in 1947 by AAA, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a nonprofit, publicly funded, 501(c)(3) charitable research and educational organization. The AAA Foundation’s mission is to prevent traffic deaths and injuries by conducting research into their causes and by educating the public about strategies to prevent crashes and reduce injuries when they do occur. This research is used to develop educational materials for drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists and other road users. Visit www.AAAFoundation.org.

About AAA: AAA provides more than 59 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 34 motor clubs and nearly 1,100 branch offices across North America. Since 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for safe mobility. Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel or map a route via the AAA Mobile app. To join, visit AAA.com.

Tamra JohnsonWASHINGTON, D.C. (June 27, 2018) –Apple CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto are less distracting to drivers when compared to built-in vehicle infotainment systems designed by automakers, according to new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. While many of today’s infotainment systems create potentially unsafe levels of distraction by allowing drivers to perform complex tasks like programming navigation or sending a text, CarPlay and Android Auto were 24 percent (5 seconds) faster on average than the vehicle’s native system when making a call and 31 percent (15 seconds) faster when programming navigation. This difference is critical, as drivers who take their eyes off the road for more than two seconds double their risk of a crash.  AAA is encouraged by these findings, as they indicate that popular infotainment systems can be designed in a way that is less distracting. Distracted driving is responsible for more than 390,000 injuries and 3,500 deaths every year.

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“Google and Apple are proving that it is possible to reduce the level of demand in-vehicle infotainment technology places on drivers,” said Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “While improvements are necessary before any of the systems can be considered safe to use while driving, this research shows that smartphone-based software has the potential to offer a simpler, more familiar design that is less confusing to drivers, and therefore less demanding.”

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety teamed with researchers from the University of Utah to evaluate five vehicles – 2017 and 2018 models – to determine the amount of visual and mental demand placed on drivers by CarPlay, Android Auto and each vehicle’s native infotainment system. While CarPlay and Android Auto can still create potentially unsafe levels of distraction and should not be used to perform complex tasks when behind the wheel, they decrease the demand placed on drivers compared to similar technologies offered by automakers.

Researchers found that CarPlay and Android Auto did not differ significantly from one another in the level of overall demand. A rating scale was used to measure the visual (eyes-off-road) demand, cognitive (mental) demand, and the time it took drivers to complete a task using the systems. The scale ranged from low to very high levels of demand. A low level of demand equates to listening to the radio or an audiobook, while very high demand equates to an industry standard that produces demand similar to balancing a checkbook while driving. Both CarPlay and Android Auto generated an overall moderate level of demand while the native vehicle systems created very high levels of demand for drivers. AAA recommends that industry strive to design in-vehicle technology systems that do not exceed a low level of demand.

  Navigation Call/Dial Text Select/Program Audio Entertainment Overall Demand
Android Auto Very High Moderate Very High Moderate Moderate
CarPlay Very High Moderate High Moderate Moderate
Native Very High High Very High High Very High

“Automakers are experts at building safer cars, but Google and Apple are more skilled at building safer vehicle infotainment technology,” said Marshall Doney, AAA’s president and CEO. “By leveraging their strengths, the two industries must work together to significantly improve the design, functionality and safety of these technologies.”

AAA cautions that not all vehicles are created equal when examining the overall performance of CarPlay and Android Auto. The interface design of some vehicles’ native systems resulted in additional menus and text on vehicle touchscreen displays, which increases the overall workload on drivers. Each vehicle’s system also influenced what features were locked out while the vehicle was in motion when using Android Auto and CarPlay. For example, some vehicles allowed drivers to access their entire contact list when calling or texting, while others limited the number of contacts shown or completely blocked access – resulting in the smartphone-based systems performing differently across various vehicle models.

AAA urges drivers not to use in-vehicle infotainment technology to perform non-driving related tasks when behind the wheel to avoid driving while distracted. Even with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto requiring less overall demand and time to complete a task, drivers still took up to 33 seconds to complete a navigation task compared to 48 seconds for native systems. At 25 MPH, drivers can travel the length of three football fields during this time.

“Drivers must use common sense when it comes to technology inside the vehicle. Just because it is available, doesn’t make it safe to use,” said Jake Nelson, AAA director of traffic safety and advocacy. “Smartphone companies and automakers must collaborate to reduce the potential for distraction that technology places on drivers. The airline industry doesn’t compete on safety, and neither should automakers. Motorists deserve better.”

Locking out high-demand functions such as programming navigation and text messaging can significantly reduce the level of demand created by in-vehicle infotainment technology, a step recommended by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Since the vehicle’s software influences which features are locked out, it is important that automakers and software designers work together to improve the safety of in-vehicle infotainment technology.  

“AAA is sharing this new research with automakers and system designers to help advance the dialogue about ways to improve the functionality and design of new infotainment systems and the demand they place on drivers,” continued Doney. “By working together to leverage the design benefits of CarPlay and Android Auto, and addressing the issues that prevent the software from effectively interacting with a vehicle’s system, automakers and smartphone companies can improve the driving experience and limit distraction on the road.” 

Expanding on research released in October 2017, AAA also evaluated distraction levels caused by built-in (native) infotainment systems in 10 new 2017/2018 vehicles. A total of 76 drivers ages 21-35 participated in the study of these additional vehicles. Research found that none of the 10 vehicle infotainment systems produced low demand, while six systems generated high or very high levels of demand on drivers:

 

Overall Demand by Vehicle

Low

Moderate

High

Very High

N/A

Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LT (2018)

Kia Sportage LX (2018)

Kia Optima LX (2018)

Ram 1500 Laramie  (2018)

Volkswagen Jetta S (2017) BMW 430i xDrive Convertible (2018)

Buick Enclave Leather (2017)

Land Rover Range Rover Sport  HSE (2017)

Mercedes-Benz C300 Limited (2017)

Nissan Rogue SV  (2017)

 
The latest report is the sixth phase of distraction research from AAA’s Center for Driving Safety and Technology. The Center was created in 2013 with the goal of studying the safety implications of how drivers interact with new vehicle technologies when behind the wheel. Visit AAA.com/distraction to learn more.

About AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety: Established in 1947 by AAA, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a not-for-profit, publicly funded, 501(c)(3) charitable research and educational organization. The AAA Foundation’s mission is to prevent traffic deaths and injuries by conducting research into their causes and by educating the public about strategies to prevent crashes and reduce injuries when they do occur. This research is used to develop educational materials for drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists and other road users. Visit www.AAAFoundation.org.

About AAA: As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 58 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 36 motor clubs and nearly 1,100 branch offices across North America. Since 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for safe mobility. Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel or map a route via the AAA Mobile app. To join, visit AAA.com.

 

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