AAA says smartphone-based technology is actually safer for drivers

Posted at 12:09 PM, Jul 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-23 14:09:24-04

AAA conducted a recent study showing that Siri is actually safer for drivers, well, sort of. 

Apple CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto-in car information systems are much less distracting to drivers than built-in car "infotainment" systems designed by car makers. According to new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, technology companies are actually creating safer easy-to-use technology than car makers.

AAA says CarPlay and Android Auto are 24 percent faster (5 seconds) on average than any car’s original system when making a call. Research also showed those systems are 31 (15 seconds) percent faster when inputting navigation.

"Drivers who take their eyes off the road for more than two seconds double their risk of a crash," AAA said. So, being able to save time using quicker easy-to-use technology makes a huge difference.

Research reveals distracted driving is the cause of more than 390,000 injuries and 3,500 deaths every year. 

"No infotainment system is safe to use while driving," said AAA Colorado spokesman Skyler McKinley. "But Apple and Google are proving that it’s possible to reduce the level of demand that in-vehicle infotainment technology places on drivers. All told, this research shows that smartphone-based software can offer a simpler, more familiar design that’s less confusing to drivers – and, so, less demanding." 

AAA said Apple and Google smartphone-based systems use cloud-based voice technology such as Siri and Google Assistant resulting in much faster system-response times, unlike car maker designed infotainment systems. Researchers also found that CarPlay and Android Auto do not have any significant differences from one another in the overall level of demand.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and researchers from the University of Utah evaluated five cars, 2017 and 2018 models, to determine the amount of visual and mental demand placed on drivers with CarPlay, Android Auto, and each car’s original infotainment system.

The visual (eyes-off-road) demand and cognitive demands were measured using a rating scale from the time it took drivers to complete a task using each system. The scale ranged from low to very high levels of demand.

An example of a low level task, listening to the radio, while a high demand task is measured the same as balancing a checkbook while driving. Both CarPlay and Android Auto generated an overall moderate level of demand, with native car systems generating a very high level of demand for drivers.

AAA stressed for drivers to continue use caution, as any in-car infotainment technology while driving can be dangerous. Once the study was complete, AAA said drivers using Apple CarPlay and Android Auto still took up to 33 seconds to finish a navigation task, compared to the 48 seconds for original car systems.

At 25 mph, drivers can travel the length of three football fields during that time, according to AAA. 

"Here’s the thing: Just because technology is available to use while you’re driving, it doesn’t make it safe to use – just the opposite," McKinley said. "We have a long road ahead of us when it comes to distracted driving, but I’m optimistic that smartphone companies and carmakers can collaborate to reduce the potential for distraction that technology places on drivers. The airline industry has never competed on safety, and neither should carmakers."

To view the full report, click here.