Georgia motorists may enjoy the high-tech navigation and infotainment systems in today’s cars. However, drivers may find themselves distracted as they operate these systems while handling the demands of driving.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identifies three categories of driving distractions:

  • Visual distractions cause drivers to look away from the road
  • Cognitive distractions arise when drivers’ minds wander
  • Manual distractions occur when drivers take their hands off the wheel

A study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reveals that the complexity of in-vehicle information systems, or IVIS, may prove distracting to all drivers and, in particular, to older drivers. This study focused on visual and cognitive demands as well as demands on drivers’ time.

The study assessed driver command of IVIS tasks

Researchers evaluated how drivers use IVIS technologies to complete tasks like calling, dialing, texting and programming navigation or music. They also analyzed how drivers used different interactive modes like voice commands, center console controls and center stack touchscreens. The study further assessed whether certain tasks were more challenging for older drivers than younger drivers.

The study reported that all drivers found it faster to dial their phones or program music than to send a text message or use the navigation function. While drivers reported that voice commands were easier to use than other controls, it took longer to complete tasks using voice commands.

Some activities posed more challenges for older drivers

Researchers determined that older drivers managing IVIS tasks experienced more visual, cognitive and temporal challenges than their younger counterparts. This was true whether drivers were using auditory commands, center console controls or center stack touchscreens.

The study suggests that automakers can make IVIS design improvements to minimize demands placed on older drivers’ attention. The study further recommends that drivers of all ages use these potentially distracting technologies only for emergencies.