The latest In-Vehicle Information (IVI) systems were designed to improve road safety along with providing necessary information and entertainment to the driver and the passengers. These systems such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto employ audio or video interfaces, touchscreens or keypads to give out vital information about the car. Though developed to ensure enhanced safety of the driver and passengers, a new study carried out by IAM RoadSmart reveals some worrying results. The study highlighted that the latest infotainment systems are significantly impacting driving performance.
Commissioned by the UK's largest independent road safety charity, the body carried out the study wherein it was found that reaction times of drivers tested was significantly slower than someone who had used cannabis and five times worse than someone driving at the legal limit of alcohol consumption. Moreover, stopping distances, lane control and response to external stimuli were all negatively affected by the use of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay infotainment systems.
The study also found that drivers took their eyes off the road for as long as 16 seconds while driving and using touch control resulted in reaction times that were even worse than texting while driving.
Neil Greig, policy and research director, IAM RoadSmart, said "Driver distraction is estimated to be a factor in around a third of all road collisions in Europe each year. While previous research indicates that Apple CarPlay and Android Auto perform better than more traditional buttons and controls, the results from this latest study raise some serious concerns about the development and use of the latest in-vehicle infotainment systems. Anything that distracts a driver's eyes or mind from the road is bad news for road safety. We're now calling on industry and government to openly test and approve such systems and develop consistent standards that genuinely help minimise driver distraction."
During the study, the drivers completed a series of three drives on the same simulated test route to assess the level of impact of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. On the first run, drivers did not interact with the system. On the second and third runs, drivers used the infotainment system using voice control only and then using touch control only.
The results were alarming as both methods of control were found to significantly distract drivers. However, touchscreen control turned out to be more distracting than voice control. The system not only caused distractions but also modified their behaviour, revealed the study.
Use of the infotainment system also showed performance issues that were adversely affected with drivers as they were unable to maintain a constant distance to the vehicle in front, reacting more slowly to sudden occurrences and deviating outside of their lane.
Neil Greig further added that "While we would like to see a review of these systems in the future, we'd encourage owners of vehicles fitted with these systems to use them in the safest possible way, including setting everything up before starting a journey. Most participants in the study report they use touch rather than voice control in real-world driving. As the results clearly show, this is the most distracting, so if there is a need to use the systems while on the go, voice control is a far safer method. Individuals driving for work are just as at risk as to the general public, so we would also encourage employers to review their advice and policies in light of this research."
Here are some of the key findings of the study carried out by IAM RoadSmart:
1. Maintaining the position of the vehicle in the lane with a consistent speed suffered significantly while interacting with either Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, especially when using touch control.
2. The drivers failed to react as often as a stimulus on the road ahead when interacting with the Infotainment system as reaction times were more than 50 per cent slower.
3. The study showed that the reaction time of the driver to a stimulus on the road ahead was slower while selecting music via Spotify through Infotainment systems compared to texting while driving.
4. Drivers using either of the systems via touch control took their eyes off the road for more than 12 seconds, which does not meet the guidelines set out by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
5. While engaging with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay via touch control, the participants also underestimated the time they thought they spent looking away from the road, which was as much as five seconds.
Source: IAM RoadSmart