TECH BYTE: Tips for Safely Navigating Your In-Car Tech

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) — If you buy a new car, it more than likely has an in-vehicle infotainment system in it.

But it’s not easy to use for everyone.

AAA says in-vehicle infotainment systems may increase comfort and mobility for older drivers, but they can still be too distracting.

“We partnered with researchers from the University of Utah, and what the study consisted of was two different age groups – ages 21 to 36, and ages 55 to 75,” said Seth Andrews, AAA. “What the study found was that the older drivers were taking their eyes off the road for eight seconds or longer when trying to perform simple tasks like programming their navigation system, or changing their radio station.”

Andrews says more older drivers are struggling to use this type of technology, because they’re unfamiliar with how it works.

“Many of these systems have multiple menus, inconvenient voice command functions,” he said.

Andrews says these systems can potentially harm older drivers more than help them.

“This has become more of an issue lately, due to the design of the technology,” Andrews said. “It’s not an age problem necessarily, it’s more of a design of the technology. Drivers can really benefit that much more if these systems were changed.”

He says these infotainment systems aren’t as user friendly as they should be.

“When you’ve got a center control system, where you have an operator who’s driving their vehicle, and they’re continuing to look over to their right, look over to the right, they’re taking their eyes off of the road, and now they’re becoming a distracted driver.”

Research from AAA shows just taking your eyes off the road for two seconds doubles your chances of getting into a crash.

Andrews says these systems can be helpful, it’s just a matter of knowing how to use them properly.

“Before you head out on the road, if you’re unfamiliar with how to get to your destination, program your navigation GPS system ahead of time,” Andrews said. “Don’t wait until you’re already out on the road to program it. It’s the same thing with if you’re going to be going on a long trip, and you want to have a playlist ready. Have that playlist cued up ready to go before you put your car into drive, and before you hit the road.”

Practice is key to making this type of technology safer.

“Practice using your voice command function. Practice using the touch screens, so that you build that comfort level, so in the event when you’re out on the road, you need to use one of these functions, you’re familiar with how to do it.”

For more on this study, and driving tips, just go to AAA.com/distraction.

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