Cars with the latest infotainment systems are proving a dangerous distraction for drivers, a new study has found.

Tests using In-Vehicle Information Systems found drivers were taking their eyes off the road for too long to be safe as they tinkered with the technology on offer.

Infotainment systems built into cars typically provide access to information and entertainment, often when linked to smartphones, such as navigation, music, phone calls and traffic conditions.

Information and entertainment

Professor David L. Strayer, from the University of Utah’s psychology department who led the study for the American Automobile Association, said: “Greater consideration should be given to what interactions should be available to the driver when the vehicle is in motion rather than to what features and functions could be available to motorists.

“We’re putting more and more technology in the car that just does not mix with driving.

“We’re expecting to see more problems associated with distracted driving as more stuff is at the fingertips of the driver to distract them.”

This is a viewed backed by the AA, the UK’s largest motoring organisation.

An AA spokesman said: “There is certainly more temptation as cars are trying to catch up with phones in ways they weren’t before.

“There is more temptation to play with control consoles and yes, it can prove a distraction.”

The AA recommends putting phones out of sight before driving.

But if drivers do choose to use the infotainment system in a car, it claims drivers should set it all up before departing rather than once in motion.

“Keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel” is the AA’s advice.

Researchers in Utah looked at the infotainment systems in 30 different 2017 cars and participants were asked to do four types of tasks while driving: make a call, send a text message, tune the radio or program navigation.

Professor David L. Strayer said: “We’re putting more and more technology in the car that just does not mix with driving.

“We’re expecting to see more problems associated with distracted driving as more stuff is at the fingertips of the driver to distract them.”

Using the navigation systems proved to be the most distracting task taking an average of 40 seconds to complete, text messaging was the second most distracting, audio entertainment and making calls were the easiest for drivers to perform.

Generally, drivers were distracted by voice-based and touch-screen technology for more than 24 seconds to complete the tasks.

A driver taking their eyes off the road for just two seconds doubles the risk of a crash, according to previous research from the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Accidents on roads in Great Britain caused by in-car distractions such as tuning a radio or talking to another passenger contributed to 2,920 road accidents in 2015, 61 of which were fatal.

In-car entertainment has moved on since the days of the built-in radio or CD player.

Typically, an infotainment system will now offer a navigation service with traffic updates, access to music such as the radio, playlists from linked smartphones phones or downloaded podcasts and the ability to control and offer rear-seat entertainment such as movies and games.

New technology such as Bluetooth connectivity has enabled drivers to connect devices such as smartphones to in-built infotainment systems.

This allows drivers to make or receive phone calls, access social networking and listen to or send text messages.

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