Are Car Infotainment Dashboards Safe?

On behalf of the Team of Bergeron Clifford LLP posted in Infotainment on November 18, 2014

Technology is advancing and new gadgets come out all the time. Some of them are smart phones with more functions, tablets that take the place of desktop computers, smart watches that can receive calls, and many others. Many industries are impacted by technological advances, including the auto industry. Auto manufacturers are in the race to incorporate the best technology in their vehicles to meet consumer demand.

Though texting while driving and talking on the phone while driving are dangerous activities and can lead to Ontario car accidents, drivers unfortunately continue to engage in these behaviours. In order to meet consumer demand for accessing phones while driving, auto makers are looking at innovative ways to meet the demand. Many auto makers have installed dashboard infotainment systems in cars to allow drivers to call someone through voice activation, among other features. Auto makers claim that the voice activated systems provide a safe way for drivers to stay connected and enjoy social media.

However, a recent study has shown that dashboard infotainment systems actually require more concentration from drivers, rather than less. The study was led by a psychology professor at the University of Utah.

The study examined infotainment systems in automobiles made by Chevrolet, Ford, Chrysler, Hyundai and Mercedes. The voice activated systems were tested by 162 university students and other volunteers in three settings:

  • a laboratory,
  • a driving simulator, and
  • in cars while driving through a Salt Lake City neighbourhood.

The systems were then graded on a distraction scale of 1 to 5 (1 representing no distraction and 5 being comparable to doing complex math problems and word memorization).

Chevrolet’s MyLink received the worst rating of 3.7, among the infotainment systems. Other infotainment systems from Mercedes, Ford and Chrysler were also rated more distracting for drivers than simply talking on hand-held cell phones.

According to the research, systems with the worst ratings were those that made errors even though drivers’ voice commands were clear and distinct. Because of the errors, drivers had to concentrate on the exact words they wanted to use to get the system to understand their commands.

For example, an infotainment system might recognize a command to change a radio station to “103.5 FM,” but not “FM 103.5” or simply “103.5.”

Though there were infotainment systems that had a relatively low distraction rating, such as Toyota’s Entune, hands free infotainment systems may be quite dangerous for drivers. “Hands free” does not equate to risk free. Drivers can still cause accidents in Ontario because they are distracted while using infotainment dashboards.

Help After an Accident in Ontario

The personal injury lawyers at Bergeron Clifford have 40 years of experience handling car and truck accident cases in Kingston, Ottawa and Whitby. If you would like to discuss your accident and injury, please do not hesitate to call us at 1-866-384-5886 to schedule a FREE consultation.

*Source: http://www.automotive-fleet.com (Studies Find Voice-Controlled Infotainment Distracting)

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