Over the last few years, the infotainment systems inside cars, trucks, and SUVs have become increasingly complex and powerful. They are even getting their own dedicated chipsets from major brands, like the Samsung Exynos Auto V9 that was unveiled in January. New research suggests that while new infotainment system technology has the potential to increase comfort and extend mobility for older drivers, it is a distraction. New AAA Foundation research indicates that infotainment systems are particularly distracting to older drivers.
Older drivers age 55-75, on average, took their eyes and attention off the road for more than eight seconds longer than younger drivers age 21 to 36. The time difference was noted in the research when performing simple tasks like navigation or tuning the radio. The AAA Foundation notes that taking your eyes off the road for only two seconds doubles the risk of a crash.
Dr. David Yang, Executive Director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, said that voice-command functions in new vehicle infotainment systems are intended to help drivers keep their eyes and attention on the road. Yang says that the complexity and poor design of some of these systems could cause more harm for older drivers rather than helping them.
The AAA foundation notes that by 2030, more than one in five drivers on the road will be over the age of 65. It believes that finding ways to design infotainment systems to be more usable by older drivers will benefit every driver on the road. The complex design of the technology in infotainment systems created increased visual and cognitive demand for older drivers.
Some systems included multiple menus and cumbersome voice command functions that reduce older drivers' ability to complete seemingly simple tasks. AAA's Jake Nelson says that this is a design problem, not an age problem. He thinks meeting the safety and comfort needs of older drivers would help drivers of all ages.