Car-Electronics, Connected Car, Telematics

Car Infotainment: Beneficial or just distracting?

Distraction is one of the main threats in modern cars. According to a study by the University of Utah infotainment systems are particular dangerous in traffic. The researchers even brought into play the idea of prohibiting in-car infotainment.

Nowadays most modern cars have an infotainment system accessible via its cockpit. They provide features such as smartphone synchronization, navigation or music selection. And the industry is constantly thinking about how to improve them and make the controls more intuitive for the driver.

As long as we don’t have fully automated vehicles on the streets the driver will have to step in over and over again to manage infotainment applications.

Study on Car Infotainment Distraction

The University of Utah had already conducted research on driver distraction, but the recent results once more underline the assumption that infotainment increases the risk of accidents. For the latest project the researchers analyzed 30 different vehicle models built in 2017.

During the analysis test subjects were asked to use the infotainment system whilst driving one of the respective cars. The test persons should initiate a call, send a short message, tune the radio and enter a navigation destination. The drivers were allowed to use the whole spectrum of technologies from voice control to touch display. The organizers developed a scale to compare different distraction levels like weak (listen to music) or strong (do mental calculation).

Study Findings

The research team found out that all activities generally take too much time. Entering navigation data took the longest, both via voice or touch input. It took the test persons 40 seconds on average to finish the task. At a speed of 50 km/h this would mean 500+ meters with an inattentive driver in the cockpit. Second longest task was short text messaging with 30 seconds.

In conclusion there isn’t a safe infotainment system at all. Each one causes long distraction spans in traffic making infotainment a hazard for the driver that could be eliminated with the rise of autonomous vehicles. Read more about the study here.

About the author:

David Fluhr is journalist and owner of the digital magazine “Autonomes Fahren & Co”. He is reporting regularly about trends and technologies in the fields Autonomous Driving, HMI, Telematics and Robotics. Link to his site:

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