Automotive

Published on August 4th, 2020 | by Amirul Mukminin

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Car Infotainment Systems and Smartphones Are Distracting Drivers

The advancements of smartphones and in-car infotainment systems have benefitted drivers in many ways. For instance, thanks to satellite navigation systems, which are offered as a standard feature on many cars today, we no longer have to rely on dire road signs and landmarks to actually know where we’re going. In some cars, essential functions such as climate control and seat adjustment can be accessed through the infotainment system.

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To make life easier on drivers, tech giants Google and Apple have started offering Android Auto and Apple CarPlay which will allow drivers to integrate their smartphones with the infotainment system in their vehicles. With these systems, all functions that could previously only be done on smartphones such as calling, texting, media streaming and many more can now be accessed and used via the car’s central display.

While this has undoubtedly made driving more pleasurable to many, it will also lead to distraction behind the wheel, which has been known to be one of the main causes of car accidents. Some drivers might think they can maintain their focus on the road while using the infotainment system at the same time (i.e. multitasking) but the truth is accidents can happen in a split second. All it takes is a moment of delayed reaction and the next thing you know, your car ends up in a drain or worse, an innocent pedestrian is hit.

Car manufacturers are definitely aware of the situation and therefore have started to include speech-recognition systems and gesture controls to complement the already interactive infotainment system. Yes, it may have been proven to reduce distracted driving by helping drivers keep their eyes on the road but to be able to use these features, they still need to divide their attention. Head-up displays are great but the amount of information that can be shown is often limited by the size of the screen.

A study showed that drivers using in-vehicle technologies like voice-based and touch screen features were visually and mentally distracted for more than 40 seconds when completing tasks like programming navigation or sending a text message. 40 seconds is catastrophic considering a previous study done by the same organisation claimed that removing eyes from the road for two seconds doubles the risk for a crash.

So what can be done to prevent accidents caused by distracted driving from happening? Surely, you won’t trade your swanky Mercedes-Benz or BMW for something lesser but what you can do is plan ahead your journey and make sure the destination is keyed in before you press that engine start/stop button. Also, this doesn’t happen very often but there are days when the navigation system decides to just go cuckoo so if you need to make some changes, try to find somewhere safe to stop your vehicle. Well, perhaps the best solution is to have a co-pilot to work the infotainment system while you are behind the wheel.

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