With GPS, backup cameras, streaming music, Bluetooth connection and a personal concierge, auto infotainment systems have added a lot to the commute. Designed to make the drive easier, infotainment systems are also touted as safer to use, thanks to their hands-free and voice recognition capabilities.
But "hands-free" does not equal risk-free. According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), infotainment systems can distract drivers in multiple ways and cause:
- Slower reaction time
- Missed visual cues
- Suppressed brain activity in the area used for safe driving
- Less visual scanning of the environment
In driving simulations, these distractions caused rear-end collisions. On the road, more than 1,100 people are injured every day in distracted driving crashes.
If you have or are considering a car with an infotainment system, these guidelines can decrease distractions and increase safety.
Consider ease of use. If you're purchasing a car, compare infotainment systems to find the safer options. After your purchase, practice using the infotainment system before you hit the road.
Stick to short commands. Using an infotainment system can be as mentally demanding as solving a math problem. Therefore, stick to simple, passive activities. Having texts read to you, for example.
Stay engaged in driving and minimize all distractions, including those that can come from an infotainment. Use the infotainment system only when you're parked somewhere safe.