Could your car infotainment system be danger under certain circumstances?

eu stars

Shocking car infotainment system dangers identified

Infotainment systems are creating huge safety concerns


A shocking report by IAM RoadSmart has shown that in-car infotainment systems can impair reaction times for drivers more than drink-driving or driving under the influence of cannabis.


The study was undertaken by TRL (Technical Readiness Level) on behalf of IAM RoadSmart, the FIA (Federation Internationale de l'Automobile) and the Rees Jeffreys Road Fund.


The research found that reaction times at motorway speeds increased average stopping distances between four and five car lengths. 


It has also been revealed that some drivers even take their eyes off the road for as long as 16 seconds


Using the touch control on the infotainment system was seen to be even more dangerous than texting while driving.


As a result of the study, IAM RoadSmart is now calling for urgent action to be taken in light of the new research, stating that updated and consistent standards should be introduced to minimise driver distraction


IAM RoadSmart and TRL - Reaction times - March 2020

The study revealed that there is a major impact on a vehicle's lane position when the driver is accessing the in-car infotainment system.


It was discovered that when the driver was performing navigation tasks with Android Auto, the car deviated 0.53M on lane position. Drivers using Apple CarPlay to access their navigation system did not fair much better as their car deviated 0.50M in lane position.


Half a meter deviation is enough to spook a driver in the next lane and could potentially lead to catastrophic consequences


Here are the key research findings from the IAM RoadSmart study:


1. Lane position, including distance from the vehicle in front as well as keeping a consistent speed suffered significantly when using the touch control features on both Android Auto or Apple CarPlay.


2. Drivers failed to react as often to other road stimulus when engaging with the cars infotainment system with reaction times more than 50 per cent slower.


3. Reaction time to road stimulus was higher when selecting music through Spotify via Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.


4. Reaction times were worse than texting while driving when using touch control, rather than voice control features. 


5. When using an infotainment system via touch control, drivers will take their eyes off the road for much longer than the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) recommended guidelines.


6. Participants in the study underestimated by as much as 5 seconds the time they thought they spent looking away from the road when engaging with the touch control infotainment system.


Neil Greig, the Director of Policy & Research at IAM RoadSmart said:


"While we would like to see a review of these systems in the future, we would encourage owners of vehicles fitted with these systems to use them in the safest possible way, including setting everything up before starting a journey"  


The participants in the study completed a series of three drives on the same simulated test route to assess the level of impact of using both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. 


On the first trip the study control drivers did not interact with the system at all. On the second run, drivers interacted with the system using voice control and then on the third run, the drivers only used the touch control features, which were seen to be the most dangerous.


Both voice control and touch control were found to significantly distract drivers, however, touchscreen control proved the more distracting.


For the full research report click here.


Justin Kavanagh
Justin Kavanagh is a recognised leader in automotive intelligence and vehicle data supply to the entire motor industry. He has almost 20 years experience in building systems from the ground up. As the Managing Director of Vehicle Management System, he understands the need and importance of trustworthy and reliable vehicle history and advice to both the trade and the public.
Follow me on LinkedIn

eu stars