Infotainment 2020

Infotainment safety concerns


Worrying results from recent IAM RoadSmart research show that the latest in-vehicle infotainment systems impair reactions times behind the wheel more than alcohol and cannabis use.

Among the shocking results, the study – undertaken by TRL on behalf of IAM RoadSmart, the FIA and the Rees Jeffreys Road Fund – found that reaction times at motorway speeds increased average stopping distances to between four and five car lengths, 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.

IAM RoadSmart is now calling for urgent action, stating that updated, consistent standards are required to minimise driver distraction. Find out more here.

IAM RoadSmart and TRL - Reaction times - March 2020

Impact on lane position

Deviation of lane position performing navigation tasks with Android Auto

Deviation of lane position performing navigation tasks with Apple CarPlay

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IAM RoadSmart calls for action 

As a result of their recent research findings, IAM RoadSmart have called on industry and government to openly test and approve all infotainment systems and develop consistent standards that will help minimise driver distraction.

Read the press release here.

Key research findings:

1. Controlling the vehicle’s position in the lane and keeping a consistent speed and headway to the vehicle in front suffered significantly when interacting with either Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, particularly when using touch control

2. Participants failed to react as often to a stimulus on the road ahead when engaging with either Android Auto or Apple CarPlay – with reaction times being more than 50 per cent slower

Reaction time to a stimulus on the road ahead was higher when selecting music through Spotify while using Android Auto and Apple CarPlay

4. The impact on reaction time when using touch control (rather than voice control) was worse than texting while driving

5. Use of either system via touch control caused drivers to take their eyes off the road for longer than NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) recommended guidelines

6. Participants underestimated by as much as 5 seconds the time they thought they spent looking away from the road when engaging with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay via touch control. 

For the full research report click here.

Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart

"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"  

Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart Director of Policy & Research


Research methodology: How the tests were delivered

During the study 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 subsequent runs, drivers interacted with the system using voice control only and then using touch control only.

Both methods of control were found to significantly distract drivers, however, touchscreen control proved the more distracting of the two.

Read the full report 

"As a professional – I’m an LGV driver – I was pretty alarmed at how distracting it was. It certainly felt it was a few seconds at a time, but it was probably a lot longer."  

Simulator test subject when asked "Did anything surprise you about using Android Auto?"

IAMRS and TRL_Infotainment study_March 20_In car image

“Individuals driving for work are just as at risk as the general public, so we would also encourage employers to review their advice and policies in light of this research."

Neil Greig, Director of Policy & Research, IAM RoadSmart

For information on IAM RoadSmart's advice and support for businesses visit our commercial website here. Fleet managers and those with a responsibility for colleagues who drive for work may also be interested to read our 2019 whitepaper 'Driving while distracted: Challenges and solutions' which you can download here.

"Touchscreens should be enabled only when the handbrake has been applied. Using them while driving along is no better than texting"

Guy L, via social media 

Car manufacturers and members of IAM RoadSmart were given the opportunity to share their view on the safety of Infotainment systems in the most recent edition of RoadSmart magazine. Current members of IAM RoadSmart can view a digital copy of the magazine by logging into here.

If you would like to find out more about IAM RoadSmart membership and courses, click here for details. 

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The battle for attention

In 2017 IAM RoadSmart summarised research and knowledge from scientific studies about distracted driving, with particular focus on how drivers engage with technology when driving.
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