Infotainment systems are more of a distraction for older drivers than younger ones

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — A new study from AAA says in-vehicle infotainment systems are especially distracting for older drivers.

128 drivers participated in the study, which involved six kinds of 2018 vehicles.

According to the study, drivers ages 55 to 75 took their eyes off the road for an average of more than eight seconds longer than drivers ages 21 to 36 while doing things like programming navigation or tuning the radio.

Completion Time by Task Type

(Columns L-R: Audio Entertainment, Calling and Dialing, Text Messaging, Navigation Entry)

Younger (21-36 yrs) 18.0 sec 17.7 sec 27.7 sec 31.4 sec
Older (55-75 yrs) 25.4 sec22.4 sec33.8 sec40.0 sec

“New in-vehicle infotainment technology has the potential to increase comfort and extend mobility for older drivers, but first it has to stop distracting them,” AAA says.

AAA says seniors are becoming the fastest-growing demographic in the United States. In just 11 years, more than one-fifth of drivers will be over 65.

According to AAA, the technology designs are complex, and include things like multiple menus and voice command functions, making them harder for older drivers to use.

“This is a design problem, not an age problem,” said Jake Nelson, AAA director of traffic safety advocacy and research. “Designing systems to meet the safety and comfort needs of aging drivers would benefit all of us today, and for years to come.”

AAA says changes should include simplifying menus, removing complex controls in the center console, and moving controls so that drivers aren’t as distracted from the road.

In the meantime, AAA recommends these tips:

  • Avoid infotainment technology while driving unless it’s an emergency.
  • Practice using voice command and touch screen functions before you drive.
  • Avoid vehicles with a center console controller for the infotainment system.

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