The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety worked with researchers at the University of Utah to measure the visual and mental demand of completing a task in 30 different 2017 model-year vehicles, as well as how much time it took. Participants were asked to make a call, send a text message, tune the radio, or program the navigation system using voice commands, touchscreens, and other input methods, all while driving.
While previous research has shown that taking your eyes off the road for as little as two seconds doubles the risk of a crash, AAA found that entering a new destination into the navigation system could take drivers more than 40 seconds. At 25 mph, that’s enough time for a driver to travel the length of four football fields, a long distance to be distracted from the road.
“Some in-vehicle technology can create unsafe situations for drivers on the road by increasing the time they spend with their eyes and attention off the road and hands off the wheel,” said David Yang, head of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, in a statement. “When an in-vehicle technology is not properly designed, simple tasks for drivers can become complicated and require more effort from drivers to complete.”
Of the vehicles tested, none put what AAA considers low demand on the driver, while 11 earned a score of “high demand,” and 12 scored “very high.” The test did not include vehicles from all brands.