Distracted driving has been a growing topic of conversation over the past couple of decades as technology moves into more and more elements of most people’s everyday lives. Few people leave home without their cell phones in hand, literally. The ability to be in communication with family members, friends and co-workers while driving is all but considered a basic need anymore. Many new vehicles come equipped with features that allow people to conduct a variety of tasks from making phone calls to programming a route for directional assistance while driving.
These in-vehicle information systems, or infotainment systems, have been found to be highly distracting to drivers, especially to those over 55. USA Today reported that distracted driving is said to have been involved in the death of more than 3,000 people in 2017 yet auto makers continue to push these features on vehicle buyers. Voice prompts allow some hands-free operation, but their spotty performance may end up causing more frustration and distraction than they save.
A study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and the University of Utah found that baby boomer drivers were distracted anywhere from 22.4 seconds to make a call to 40 seconds to program navigation. Drivers between 21 and 36 were distracted 17.7 seconds to make a call and 31.4 seconds to program navigation. Older drivers were distracted as many as eight seconds more than their younger counterparts.
A person’s risk of a crash doubles with a distraction lasting two seconds. The study evaluated drivers in both age groups operating multiple 2018 model vehicles from both domestic and foreign auto manufacturers.