US: Research finds today’s smart infotainment systems might be more than drivers can handle image

Distracted driving is one of the main causes for auto accidents around the world and automakers are increasingly turning to smarter, voice-activated infotainment systems to try and reduce the driver’s strain.

The only problem is that, according to the latest research coming from America’s AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, the latest and greatest systems (proprietary systems, as well as Apple Inc.’s Siri electronic assistant, for example) that have been installed by many carmakers since 2013 can actually be a mental burden.

Researchers at the University of Utah conducted AAA’s experiments and had people driving in simulators at the same time using Siri to send text messages, post updates on Facebook and modify their calendar appointments.

“The push to voice-based technology acknowledges that people need to keep their eyes on the road,” comments David Strayer, the University of Utah psychology professor in charge of the experiments. “Our research suggests that’s not enough. You need to be paying attention to what you’re looking at.”

The results are rather mind boggling: the mental strain average of the test subjects was 4 out of 5 when using Siri. That’s above what they got when talking (without any handsfree) on the phone or changing the radio. And there were three virtual crashes during the experiments, two of them while using Siri.

Via Automotive News