A recent study from the AAA Foundation and the University of Utah that measures cognitive and visual demands of infotainment systems suggests that they are not proven safe to use when operating a motor vehicle.
While today’s commercial fleets use an array of perks including infotainment to keep drivers entertained and increase retention, the latest research suggests they can add to distracted driving.
The study explores the visual (eyes-off-the-road) and cognitive (mental) demands associated with Apple CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto as compared with the demand levels associated with native, built-in infotainment systems.
Overall, both CarPlay and Android Auto systems generated a moderate level of demand while the built-in/native systems called for very high levels of demand.
The researchers also looked at demand levels for specific types of tasks associated with the systems, including calling or dialing, text messaging, programming audio entertainment or programming navigation.
Here again, for most tasks, both CarPlay and Android Auto were rated as less demanding than native systems. CarPlay topped Android Auto for sending text messages, with a lower overall demand. But Android Auto outranked CarPlay when it came to programming navigation, scoring overall lower demand levels.
The study also compares demand levels based on mode of interaction such as using a center stack display or auditory/ vocal commands. The findings showed demands ranging from moderate to very high for native systems, and moderate to high for CarPlay and Android Auto.
Because infotainment choices are increasingly becoming standard equipment, fleet managers will soon no longer have the option to keep them out of the vehicle. However, the study authors caution about the lack of proven safety and advise motorists to only use infotainment technologies for legitimate emergencies or urgent purposes.